MP seeks revival of cheetah reintroduction project

• The Madhya Pradesh forest department has written to the National Tiger Conservation Authority to revive the plan to reintroduce cheetahs in the State’s Nauradehi Sanctuary. The ambitious project, conceived in 2009, had hit a roadblock for want of funds.

• The country’s last spotted feline died in Chattisgarh in 1947. Later, the cheetah – which is the fastest land animal – was declared extinct in India in 1952.

• The MP forest department would need finances from the Centre for the project adding that the NTCA, a statutory body under the Union Environment Ministry, had committed Rs 50 crore to the State for it in 2011.

• The Wildlife Institute of India at Dehradun had prepared a Rs 260 crore cheetah re-introduction project six years ago. It was estimated that an amount of Rs 25 crore to Rs 30 crore would be needed to build an enclosure in an area of 150 sq km for the Cheetahs in Nauradehi. The proposal was to put the felines in the enclosure with huge boundary walls before being released in the wild.

• Nauradehi was found to be the most suitable area for the cheetahs as its forests are not very dense to restrict the fast movement of the spotted cat. Besides, the prey base for cheetahs is also in abundance at the sanctuary.

• According to the earlier action plan, around 20 cheetahs were to be translocated to Nauradehi from Namibia in Africa. The Namibia Cheetah Conservation Fund had then shown its willingness to donate the felines to India.

• However, the state was not ready to finance the plan contending that it was the Centre’s project.

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