[Watch] Seventy Years After Becoming Extinct In Country, 8 Cheetahs Land In India

New Delhi: A special chartered cargo flight, carrying eight cheetahs from Namibia, landed at Gwalior’s Maharajpura airbase on Saturday.

From the airbase, the big cats were flown in an IAF Chinook heavy-lift helicopter to the Kuno National Park in Sheopur district, around 165 km from Gwalior, where they will be released.

A tiger-faced B747 Jumbo jet was used to ferry the eight cheetahs from Namibia. The introduction of the fastest land animal in India is being done under Project Cheetah, which is the world’s first inter-continental large wild carnivore translocation project, a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is celebrating his birthday today, will release three of the cheetahs into the park’s quarantine enclosures later in the day.

Two male sibling cheetahs will be released into one quarantine enclosure and another female cheetah will be released into the adjacent enclosure. The quarantine enclosures are 50×30 metres in dimension and there are six such enclosures for eight big cats.

According to the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), an international not-for-profit organisation headquartered in Namibia and dedicated to saving the fastest land animal, the five female cheetahs bound for India are aged between two and five years, while the males are aged between 4.5 years and 5.5 years.

“No greater gift for MP than the fact that the cheetahs from Namibia are coming to Kuno National Park. They had gone extinct & it’s a historic step to reintroduce them. This is the biggest wildlife incident of this century. This will rapidly boost tourism in MP,” Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan told mediapersons.

Sixty-nine years after the last recorded surviving cheetah in India was hunted down in Chhattisgarh in 1952, the animal returns to a wild enclosure in the country.

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