India Plans Reintroduction of Cheetahs

MUMBAI, July 29 (UPI) — Cheetahs, hunted to extinction in India 100 years ago, will return to that country under a plan approved by the government, environmental groups say.

India will spend more than $500,000 to prepare two preserve sanctuaries and import cheetahs from Africa, Iran and the Middle East, BBC News reported Thursday.

Most of the 10,000 cheetahs still surviving in the wild are in Africa.

The Kuno Palpur and Nauradehi wildlife sanctuaries in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and the Shahgarh area in Jaisalmer in the northern state of Rajasthan have been selected as the sites to house the animals, the BBC said.

“The return of the cheetah would make India the only country in the world to host six of the world’s eight large cats and the only one to have all the large cats of Asia,” M.K. Ranjitsinh of the Wildlife Trust of India said.

Wildlife experts say the two sanctuaries in Madhya Pradesh have the capacity to accommodate nearly 80 cheetahs.

Some critics of the reintroduction plan say that without restoring habitat and prey base and reducing the possibility of man-animal conflict, viable cheetah populations will not flourish.

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