The Government of India is in the process of holding consultation meeting with African countries for bringing Cheetah. A total of 12-14 cheetahs are intended to be brought from South Africa/Namibia/Other African Countries over a period of five years as per the Action Plan. The such introduced cheetah would be fitted with Satellite/GSM-GPS-VHF radio-collars before their release in wild so as to enable monitoring remotely.The cheetah was declared extinct from India in 1952, currently there are no cheetah in any National Park or Wildlife Sanctuary in India.
About 12-14 wild cheetahs (8-10 males and 4-6 females) from various parks/reserves/areas that are ideal (reproductive age group that is genetically diverse, disease free, behaviorally sound-e.g. not overly imprinted to humans but tolerant, predator wary, capable of hunting wild prey, and socially tolerant of each other) for establishing a new cheetah population would be imported as required from South Africa/Namibia/Other African Countries, as a founder stock for five years initially and then as may be required by the program.
Cheetah is the only large carnivore to have become extinct in Independent India. There are no cheetah left in wild in India, therefore, to introduce them in India they have to be brought from abroad. Cheetah has been an integral part of Indian ecosystems, a major evolutionary force, and an important cultural heritage. Their restoration will likely result in better conservation of open forest, grassland, and scrub ecosystems for which they will serve as a flagship species.
Rs. 38.70 crore under the ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger has been allocated to the cheetah introduction project for the years 2021-22 to 2025-26.
This information was given by Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change in Lok Sabha on 7th February, 2022.
The african cheetah is a different species than the Indian cheetah which became extinct. So the Government is going ahead with reintroduction of an exotic species. The Supreme Court had earlier banned its import. However, after several years with the change in Government and change in justices, the Government has managed to obtain a favorable order from the Supreme Court and is now going ahead with the African Cheetah import.
The Asian cheetah can still be found in Iran. However, their population is very low. The conservationists who were working on asiatic cheetahs in Iran were were jailed for suspicion of being foreign agents. Capturing and getting asian cheetahs from Iran is difficult. In the past there was proposal to clone asiatic cheetah however, that proposal didn't move ahead. Before that there were talks of shifting cheetahs from Iran but that country faced a regime change. However, if at all Asiatic Cheetah can be saved from extinction then there should be capture and gradual reintroduction into managed environments in India. Unfortunately, that is not expected to ever happen.