This project will also have important conservation ramifications as cheetah restoration is significant for ethos, especially after the last of the Indian cheetahs died in the Delhi zoo in 1994.
Indian Oil has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to undertake a transcontinental relocation of ‘Cheetah’ in its historical range in India. The MoU was signed on Tuesday by S M Vaidya, chairman, Indian Oil and S P Yadav from Project Tiger and member secretary of the NTCA.
This follows a previous MoU between the Indian and the Namibian government on wildlife conservation and sustainable biodiversity utilization – especially for obtaining and establishing the cheetah into the historical range in India. Indian Oil will be contributing Rs.50.22 crore in 4 years for the project components – introducing the cheetah; the management of its habitat and it protection; eco-development; and, staff training and veterinary healthcare.
The MoU entails sourcing and flying into India a population of eight to 10 cheetahs from Namibia and South Africa to be introduced at Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park.
The cheetah introduction project in Kuno National Park involves creating a 500-hectare predator proof enclosure for a ‘soft release’ of the feline. Introduction would commence in a phased manner with few individuals after construction of the soft release enclosure and augmentation of protection, while other actions are under way. The first batch of Cheetah would be soft released in the enclosure with GPS and satellite transmitters.
Similar to extinct Indian cheetah
This project will also have important conservation ramifications as cheetah restoration will be part of a prototype for restoration of original cheetah habitats and their biodiversity, helping to stem the degradation and rapid loss of biodiversity and is also essential for balancing the ecosystem. The introduction of cheetahs is significant for national conservation and ethos, especially after the last of the Indian cheetahs died in the Delhi zoo in 1994.
The Asiatic Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus), a subspecies of India’s extinct cheetah was will, however be replaced with the African cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus jubatus). One argument for this is the similar genes of these two subspecies.
Earlier last year, Indian Oil had adopted the Indian single horned rhino as its mascot, putting the company at the forefront of India’s Rhino conservation endeavours.
As the nodal agency authorised by the ministry of environment and forests and climate change, the NCTA will work with the union government and the government of Madhya Pradesh as well as the governments of Namibia and South Africa. It will also facilitate the capacity building and hand-holding of forest officials and functionaries.