PM Modi releases eight cheetahs in Kuno National Park of Madhya Pradesh

Prime Minister Narendra Modi released the eight cheetahs flown in from Namibia into a special enclosure at the Kuno National Park (KNP) in Madhya Pradesh on Saturday. He also clicked some pictures of the cheetahs on a professional camera after releasing them.

In an address, he hit out at the previous governments, saying that no constructive efforts were made to reintroduce cheetahs in India after they became extinct from the country seven decades ago. He also said that the Project Cheetah, under which the felines were reintroduced, was his government’s endeavour towards environment and wildlife conservation.

A special cargo Boeing 747 chartered flight carrying eight cheetahs (five females and three males) from Namibia landed at the Indian Air Force Station in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh early Saturday. 

The animals were later flown to the KNP, located in Sheopur district, in two Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters.

The prime minister, who is celebrating his birthday, released these cheetahs into an enclosure at the KNP. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was also present on the occasion.

The release of wild cheetahs is part of PM’s efforts to revitalise and diversify India’s wildlife and its habitat, said a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Thursday.

The introduction of the fastest land animal in India is being done under Project Cheetah, which is world’s first inter-continental large wild carnivore translocation project, the statement said. The last cheetah died in the country in 1947 in Korea district in present day Chhattisgarh, which was earlier part of Madhya Pradesh, and the species was declared extinct from India in 1952.

The “African Cheetah Introduction Project in India” was conceived in 2009. A plan to introduce the big cat in the KNP by November last year had suffered a setback due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.

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

(With inputs from agencies)

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