The cheetah was declared extinct in India in 1952. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release cheetahs brought from Namibia to Madhya Pradesh's Kuno National Park on Saturday as part of his efforts to revitalise and diversify the country's wildlife and habitat. The introduction of cheetah in India is being done under Project Cheetah, which is the world's first inter-continental large wild carnivore translocation project. The initiative is being lauded by the people of India who had been eagerly waiting for the return of the Cheetahs. Netizens took to Twitter and bombarded the social media platforms with hilarious jokes and memes.
All India Radio tweeted, "India cannot wait to welcome back the fastest land animal! #CheetahIsBack."
The aircraft bringing the cheetahs to India has been modified to allow cages to be secured in the main cabin but will still allow vets to have full access to the cats during the flight. It has been painted with the image of a tiger. The aircraft is an ultra-long range jet capable of flying for up to 16 hours and so can fly directly from Namibia to India without a stop to refuel, an important consideration for the well-being of the cheetahs.
Cheetah will have to spend their entire air transit period empty stomach, a senior Indian forest department official said on Tuesday.
The large carnivore got completely wiped out from India due to their use for coursing, sport hunting, overhunting and habitat loss.
The government declared the cheetah extinct in the country in 1952. The last spotted feline died in 1948 in the Sal forests of Chhattisgarh's Koriya district.
Starting in the 1970s, the efforts of the Indian government to re-establish the species in its historical ranges in the country led to the signing of a pact with Namibia, which donated the first eight individuals to launch the Cheetah reintroduction programme on July 20 this year.
-with PTI inputs