Know Everything About India’s Plan to Reintroduce Cheetahs- UPSC Current Affairs

Reintroduce Cheetahs in India

Read our today’s edition of Current Affairs wherein we will discuss in detail about How India plans to reintroduce Cheetahs? The topic’s relevance to the UPSC CSE syllabus is listed below:

For Prelims: Cheetah, Reintroduction of Cheetah, IUCN, Kuno National Park  

For Mains: Reintroduction of Cheetah, IUCN, Kuno National Park, Wildlife, Biodiversity    

Practice Question

Recently, the government’s plan to reintroduce Cheetah in India was in the news. Analyze the threats and opportunities for biodiversity in reintroducing extinct species from other parts of the world. 

Context

India and Namibia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) recently to reintroduce the African cheetah, a critically endangered species, in India.

Read our yesterday’s edition of Current Affairs on Effects of Rupee Depreciation on Indian Economy.

About the Government’s Plan to Bring Cheetahs to India

  • The Indian government has been attempting to reintroduce cheetahs in India since the 1960s and the 1970s, as in 1952 they were declared extinct in India.
  • The government has made failed attempts to bring Asiatic cheetahs from Iran, the only country to have a surviving population of the species.
  • Once again, in an effort to bring African Cheetah into India, the MoU was signed between India and Namibia.
  • Aims of MoU:
    • To facilitate cheetah conservation in both countries by way of exchange of expertise,
    • Sharing of good practices in the field of wildlife conservation,
    • Use of technology and sustainable management of biodiversity.

About Cheetah

  • The very name ‘Cheetah’ (Acinonyx Jubatus Venaticus) originates from Sanskrit and means ‘the spotted one’.
  • Cheetahs live in open plains; their habitat is predominantly where their prey live and temperatures that tend to be hotter compared to cooler regimes.
  • IUCN Status
    • African Cheetah is Vulnerable (6000 to 7000 population in Africa)
    • Asiatic Cheetah is Critically Endangered (40 to 50 only found in Iran)
  • In saving cheetahs, one would have to save not only its prey-base comprising certain threatened species, but also other endangered species of the grasslands and open forest ecosystems, some of which are on the brink of extinction.
  • It is also observed that among large carnivores, conflict with human interests is lowest for Cheetahs. They are not a threat to humans and do not attack large livestock either.

Goal of Cheetah Reintroduction Project

  • Cheetah happens to be the only large carnivore that got completely wiped out from India, mainly due to over-hunting and habitat loss.
  • Also India has a larger goal of re-establishing ecological function in Indian grasslands that was lost due to the extinction of the Asiatic cheetah.
  • This is in conformity with International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) guidelines on conservation translocations.
  • The cheetahs would help in the conservation of other species in the sanctuary, including that of the grasslands.
  • The main goal is to establish viable cheetah metapopulation in India thereby contributing to its global conservation efforts.

Read more about Bring Back the Cheetah

Criticism of the Cheetah Reintroduction Project

  • It is said that the government’s reasons for this project are not compelling, particularly from a conservation perspective.
  • It will take a very long time to increase Cheetah metapopulation, and  the numbers are too few for them to have any significant impact.
  • Experts have long expressed concern about the ability of the cheetahs to adapt to Kuno’s foreign environment and its ecological differences.
  • There are other species that could play the same role, for example, the wolf or the great Indian bustard.
  • The project involved approximately 300 crores, figures that could be utilized for native species and their habitats, especially for species that are often neglected and ignored.

Enhance your preparation for the IAS 2023 exam with this video on Social Forestry by Himanshu Sharma Sir, our faculty for Geography:

The Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary or National Park (KPN)

  • KNP is 748 sq. km. in the area devoid of human settlements, in Madhya Pradesh.
  • It forms part of Sheopur-Shivpuri’s deciduous open forest landscape and is estimated to have a capacity to sustain 21 cheetahs.
  • Kuno is probably the only wildlife site in the country where there has been a complete relocation of villages from inside the park.
  • Kuno also offers the prospect of housing four big cats of India such as tiger, lion, leopard, and cheetah, and allowing them to coexist as in the past.
  • The sanctuary also has plenty of food for transporting species and there were also plans for bringing in chital, in case there was a shortage of prey for the cheetahs.

News Source: The Indian Express

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