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India prepares to welcome cheetahs from Africa

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New Delhi, Mar 27: India's plan to reintroduce cheetahs will soon become a reality. The first batch of the big cats from Africa is expected to reach India by the end of this year.

Representational Image

Reportedly, two expert teams, one from Namibia and the other from South Africa will arrive to train Indian forest officers on handling, breeding, rehabilitation, medical treatment and conservation Cheetah, which was declared regionally extinct 70 years ago.

The initial plan is to relocate 35-40 cheetahs from Namibia and South Africa, countries with the world's highest cheetah population, to six identified sites.

The six sites that will be considered are Mukundara Hills Tiger Reserve and Shergarh Wildlife Sanctuary in Rajasthan and Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kuno National Park, Madhav National Park and Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.

These sites have been re-assessed by the Wildlife Trust of India. Of these, Kuno Palpur has been identified as being ready for relocation.

The country's last spotted cheetah died in Chhattisgarh in 1947. Later, the cheetah -- which is the fastest land mammal -- was declared extinct in India in 1952.

In 1947, Maharaja Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo of Koriya is believed to have caused the Asiatic Cheetah's extinction in India after he shot the last three of them while hunting.

Now, decades later, India is going to carry out the world's first inter-continental relocation of a large carnivore.

The animal is considered vulnerable under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)s red list of threatened species, with a declining population of less than 7,000 found primarily in African savannas.

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