Project Cheetah Completes One Year

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    Syllabus:GS3/ Environment, Conservation

    News

    • Project Cheetah, was completed one year when the first batch of eight cheetahs from Namibia arrived on September 17, 2022 in India.

    Background

    • Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), is one of the world’s most-recognizable cats, known especially for its speed.In India, the cheetah population used to be fairly widespread.
    • The cheetah is believed to have disappeared from the Indian landscape in 1947 when Maharaja Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo of Koriya princely state hunted down and shot the last three recorded Asiatic cheetahs in India.
      • The cheetah was officially declared extinct by the Indian government in 1952.
    • Since the 1940s, the cheetah has gone extinct in 14 other countries – Jordan, Iraq, Israel, Morocco, Syria, Oman, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Ghana, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    Reason for Extinction

    • Over-hunting was a major contributing factor.
    • The decimation of its relatively narrow prey base species and 
    • The loss of its grassland-forest habitat.

    What is Project Cheetah?

    • Project Cheetah is India’s cheetah relocation programme. It aims to bring back independent India’s only extinct large mammal. 
    • As part of the project, 50 cheetahs will be introduced in various National Parks over five years.
    • The goal of the introduction of African cheetahs is to “establish viable cheetah metapopulation in India that allows the cheetah to perform its functional role as a top predator and provides space for the expansion of the cheetah within its historical range thereby contributing to its global conservation efforts.”

    Status of the Project Cheetah

    • In total, 20 adult African cheetahs have been imported so far and were relocated in Kuno National Park.
    • The first batch of eight cheetahs arrived in September 2022 from Namibia and another batch of 12 cheetahs from South Africa arrived in February 2023.
    • This is the first time in the world that a large carnivore has been relocated from one continent to another.
    • In March 2023, one of the females gave birth to a litter of four cubs which were conceived in India. However only one of the cubs survived.
    • Also out of 20 cheetahs six have died so far.Currently, all the surviving 14 adult cheetahs and one cub are in captivity.
    Kuno National Park

    – The park is located in the Vindhyan Hills of Central India in Madhya Pradesh. The Kuno River flows through the national park.
    – It was established in 1981 as a wildlife sanctuary. In 2018, it was given the status of a national park.

    Difference Between Asiatic Cheetah and African Cheetah

    Asiatic Cheetah (Acinonyx Jubatus Venaticus)African Cheetah (Acinonyx Jubatus Jubatus)
    IUCN status: critically endangeredIUCN status: vulnerable
    Distribution: Only 12 cheetahs are left in the wildDistribution: Around 6,500-7,000 African cheetahs are present in the wild.
    Characteristics: Smaller and paler than the African cheetah.Characteristics: They are bigger in size as compared to Asiatic Cheetah.

    Source:TH