India welcomes cheetahs after 7 decades of extinction: Key points | India News

NEW DELHI: India on Saturday welcomed eight cheetahs from Namibia, as part of a programme to reintroduce the feline in the country exactly seven decades after it was declared extinct in 1952. A modified Boeing aircraft, carrying the cheetahs in special wooden crates, landed at Gwalior airbase in Madhya Pradesh shortly before 8 am on Saturday. The animals, brought under an MoU signed earlier this year, were flown to Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release three of the cheetahs in quarantine enclosures on his birthday today.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that reviving an extinct cat species is a historic step and it will boost tourism in the state. “No greater gift for MP than the fact that the cheetahs from Namibia are coming to Kuno National Park. They had gone extinct in India and it’s a historic step to reintroduce them. This is the biggest wildlife incident of this century. This will rapidly boost tourism in MP,” CM Chouhan said.
Here are some key points:

  1. The special flight of Terra Avia, an airline based at Chisinau, Moldova in Europe, took off from the African country Friday night and completed an around 10-hour journey to reach India on Saturday morning.
  2. The animals were flown from Gwalior to Kuno in Sheopur district, 165 km away, in an Air Force helicopter, and the journey took about 20-25 minutes, an official said. The helicopters carrying the eight cheetahs, brought under an inter-continental cheetah translocation project, reached Palpur near Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh around 10.30am.
  3. The cheetahs remained without food during the journey and will be given something to eat once they are released in the enclosures, an official said.
  4. A dais has been set up in the park under which special cages carrying the cheetahs will be kept and Modi will release three of them in an enclosure by operating a lever.
  5. After that, other dignitaries will release the remaining cheetahs in other enclosures.
  6. The Park is situated on the northern side of Vidhyachal mountains and is spread across 344 sq km.
  7. Officials battled heavy rain, inclement weather and some blocked roads to complete the preparations for PM Modi’s programme. Two days before PM Modi’s arrival, heavy rain lashed the Gwalior-Chambal region of Madhya Pradesh.
  8. Among the eight cheetahs, five are females and three males.
  9. Under the ambitious Project Cheetah of the Indian government, the reintroduction of wild species particularly cheetah is being undertaken as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) guidelines.
  10. Cheetahs will help in the restoration of open forest and grassland ecosystems in India and will help conserve biodiversity and enhance the ecosystem services like water security, carbon sequestration and soil moisture conservation.

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