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Cheers to Cheetah – Happy Birthday, NaMO!

The Wild Cat Is Back In India, Thanks To Namibia

NatConnect Foundation

India of the 21st century is giving a message to the whole world that economy and ecology are not conflicting, PM Modi said.

SARAN AHARWANI, Madhya Pradesh, Sep 17 (The CONNECT) - Seventy years after they became extinct in India, Cheetahs are being restored as eight big cats were flown in from Namibia under world's first inter-continental large wild carnivore translocation project.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi released wild Cheetahs in Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh today coinciding with his birthday.

“Decades ago, the age-old link of biodiversity that was broken and became extinct, today we have a chance to restore it”, he said, “Today the cheetah has returned to the soil of India.”

“I am sure, these cheetahs will not only make us aware of our responsibilities towards nature but will also make us aware of our human values ​​and traditions”, the Prime Minister remarked.

Modi released Cheetahs at two points in Kuno National Park. He also interacted with Cheetah Mitras, Cheetah Rehabilitation Management Group and students at the venue.

Modi recalled that in the last centuries, exploitation of nature was considered to be a symbol of power and modernity. “In 1947, when only the last three cheetahs were left in the country, they too were hunted mercilessly and irresponsibly in the Sal forests”, he pointed out.

The Prime Minister remarked that even though cheetahs had become extinct from India in 1952, no meaningful effort was made to rehabilitate them for the past seven decades. He was happy that the country has started to rehabilitate cheetahs with new energy during in the Azadi Ka Amit Mahotsav.

“Amrit has the power to revive even the dead,” Modi remarked. This elixir of duty and faith in the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is not just reviving our heritage, but now cheetahs have also set foot on the soil of India.

On the years of hard work that went behind making this rehabilitation successful, the Prime Minister said that the utmost energy was deployed for an area that is not given too much political importance. A detailed Cheetah Action Plan was prepared while our talented scientists conducted extensive research, working closely with South African and Namibian experts. Scientific surveys were conducted across the country to locate the most suitable area for cheetahs, and then Kuno National Park was chosen for this auspicious start. “Today, our hard work is in front of us as a result”, he said.

The Prime Minister reiterated that when nature and the environment are protected, our future becomes secure and the avenues for growth and prosperity open up.  

He said that when the cheetahs sprint in Kuno National Park, the grassland eco-system will be restored and it will also lead to an increase in biodiversity. Modi also highlighted that employment opportunities will increase as a result of the growing eco-tourism in the area thereby opening up new possibilities for development.

 “Today these cheetahs have come as guests, and are unaware of this area” he remarked, “For these cheetahs to be able to make Kuno National Park their home, we have to give them a few months' time.” The Prime Minister stressed that international guidelines are being followed and India is trying its best to settle these cheetahs. “We must not allow our efforts to fail”, he said.

The Prime Minister remarked that the India of the 21st century is giving a message to the whole world that economy and ecology are not conflicting fields. He said that India is a living and breathing example that economic progress of the country can take place along with protecting the environment. “Today, on one hand, we are included in the fastest growing economies of the world, at the same time the forest areas of the country are also expanding rapidly”, the Prime Minister pointed out.

Throwing light on the work carried out by the government, the Prime Minister said that since the formation of our government in 2014, about 250 new protected areas have been added in the country. There has also been a big increase in the number of Asiatic lions here and Gujarat has emerged as a dominating sphere of ​​Asiatic lions in the country. “Decades of hard work, research-based policies and public participation have a big role behind this”, he said.

The relevance: The release of wild Cheetahs by the Prime Minister in Kuno National Park is part of his efforts to revitalise and diversify India’s wildlife and its habitat. The cheetah was declared extinct from India in 1952. The Cheetahs that would be released are from Namibia and have been brought under an MoU signed earlier this year. The introduction of Cheetah in India is being done under Project Cheetah, the world’s first inter-continental large wild carnivore translocation project.

Cheetahs will help restore open forest and grassland ecosystems in India. This will help conserve biodiversity and enhance the ecosystem services like water security, carbon sequestration and soil moisture conservation, benefiting society at large. This effort, in line with the Prime Minister’s commitment to environmental protection and wildlife conservation, will also lead to enhanced livelihood opportunities for the local community through eco-development and ecotourism activities.