It is delightful that the Supreme Court has allowed permissions to reintroduce cheetahs into the wild after they were declared extinct almost 70 years ago.
Cheetahs were eradicated in India in 1952 as a consequence of the destruction of their habitat, trophy hunting, conflict with humans and a drop in the gazelle numbers they preyed on. They are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature because there are only 7100 cheetahs left in the wild, and 90% of them are in Africa. While they once roamed parts of India in great numbers, there are only 50 Asiatic cheetahs left and they’re in Iran.
Following an application filed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the court has ruled that cheetahs from Namibia can be reintroduced to the country on an experimental basis to see whether the African animals can adapt to living in India.
The government has been trying to reintroduce cheetahs back to the country as far back as the 1970s, and it is now tasked with identifying suitable habitats for the animal, assessing factors like prey availability and the potential for human-cheetah conflict. The Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh, the Velavadar National Park in Gujarat and the Tal Chapar Sanctuary in Rajasthan have been suggested as potential sites. Conservationists have been heartened by this success in increasing wild tiger populations over the last decade, and it is hoped that the new location for the cheetah will help increase its numbers.
This article was first published on www.lonelyplanet.com.