Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday reached the Indian Air Force Station in Madhya Pradesh’s Gwalior to release the eight cheetahs that have arrived in India from Namibia.

PM Modi will release five female and three male cheetahs into the Kuno National Park on his 72nd birthday. This re-introduction of the cheetahs is a part of ‘Project Cheetah’ and the government’s efforts to revitalise and diversify the country’s wildlife and habitat.

Modi will later attend a programme of the Self Help Groups in Sheopur.

The eight cheetahs were brought in a cargo aircraft in Gwalior as part of an inter-continental cheetah translocation project. Later, the Indian Air Force choppers carried the cheetahs to Kuno National Park from Gwalior Air Force Station.

The cheetah was declared extinct in India in 1952.

The cheetahs have been brought under an MoU signed earlier this year.

Cheetahs will help in the restoration of open forest and grassland ecosystems in India and will help conserve biodiversity and enhance the ecosystem services like water security, carbon sequestration and soil moisture conservation.

Earlier, SP Yadav, Project Cheetah chief, said that PM Modi will release two cheetahs from enclosure number one and after that about 70 meters away, at the second enclosure, the PM will release another cheetah.

“Cheetah is said to be the fastest animal. It runs at a speed of 100-120 km per hour. The habitat that has been selected in Kuno is very beautiful and ideal, where there are large grasslands, small hills, and forests and it is very suitable for cheetahs. Heavy security arrangements have been made in Kuno National Park. Arrangements have been done to prevent poaching activities,” he said.

“Radio collar has been installed in all the cheetahs and will be monitored through satellite. Apart from this, there will be a dedicated monitoring team behind each cheetah who will keep monitoring location for 24 hours,” Yadav added.

The remaining cheetahs will be released in their respective quarantine areas made for them.
Under the ambitious Project Cheetah of the Indian government, the reintroduction of wild species, particularly cheetah is being undertaken as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) guidelines.

India has a long history of wildlife conservation. One of the most successful wildlife conservation ventures ‘Project Tiger’, which was initiated way back in 1972, has not only contributed to the conservation of tigers but also to the entire ecosystem.
In continuation of this, the reintroduction of cheetahs is one step ahead and a milestone in the history of wildlife conservation in India. (ANI)