State to house African cheetah?
20 Oct 2008, 0608 hrs IST, Anindo Dey, TNN
JAIPUR: It could be the next big thing for wildlife in India. Encouraged by the successful translocation of the tiger from the Ranthambore National Park to the Sariska Tiger Reserve recently, the state forest department is gearing up for another ambitious project.
According to additional chief secretary (social infrastructure) Parmesh Chandra, “We are planning to bring back the cheetah to India. Currently, a proposal is being prepared by the department for bringing the African cheetah to the sub-continent . The proposal will be then sent to the Union government seeking its approval.”
The cheetahs are fast disappearing worldwide. There are about 12,400 cheetahs in the world, mainly in 25 African countries, with Namibia having the most at about 2,500. Another fifty to sixty critically endangered Asiatic cheetahs remain in Iran.
In India, they have been extinct for the past 50 years. They are included on International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list of vulnerable species as well as on the US Endangered Species Act.
“We would tentatively be preparing the Gajner forest area for introducing the cheetah. The predator needs arid climate and a flat land to survive and both these factors are there at Gajner,” Chandra added.
The Gajner forests, located about 32 kms from Bikaner, used to be the hunting grounds of the erstwhile rulers. The department has already floated plans of making the area a conservation reserve. It boasts of a sparkling lake and a variety of wild animals like the imperial sandgrouse, wild fowls, black bucks, desert foxes, wild boars, deer, antelopes, nilgais and the chinkaras.
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