Eight wild African cheetahs will be taken from Namibia to India, officials said, adding that the two countries signed the deal on Wednesday.
India used to have Asiatic cheetahs, but in 1952 the animals were officially declared extinct due to hunting and habitat loss. In 2020, the Indian Supreme Court announced that African cheetahs could be introduced in a “carefully chosen location” on an experimental basis.
Next month, the African cheetahs will be flown to the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh for captive breeding. “The main goal of cheetah reintroduction project is to establish viable cheetah metapopulation in India that allows the cheetah to perform its functional role as a top predator,” the environment ministry said in a statement.
“Cheetah reintroduction would also greatly enhance local community livelihoods through eco-tourism prospects in the long term,” India’s environment minister Bhupender Yadav said. India is also planning to ship in cheetahs from South Africa, but a formal deal has yet to be signed.
Cheetahs are considered vulnerable under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, with less than 7,000 individuals in the world, found mostly in African savannas.