Nearly ten years ago, the then environment minister Jairam Ramesh proposed the introduction of African Cheetahs in India. The apex court had then declined permission stating it was a foreign species. Hearing an application filed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the court has finally allowed the introduction of the big cat on a pilot project basis now. By Kumar Shree
Given that the Indian Cheetah has gone extinct, the NTCA had been seeking permission for introducing African Cheetah in India for long. Finally, after a prolonged back and forth, the court has given its nod. Many suitable areas including Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh, Velavadar National Park in Gujarat, and Tal Chapar sanctuary in Rajasthan are shortlisted for this project.
These African Cheetahs from Namibia will undergo relocation and the court will monitor the project throughout. Further status of this project will be a subject of NTCA’s discretion, based on the results. The bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde, Justices B R Gavai and Justice Surya Kant will also undergo a report from the NTCA every four month.
Former environment minister Jairam Ramesh, welcomed the decision by saying, “It is a momentous occasion.” The decision can be seen as a milestone in the direction of restoring the extinct Cheetah population in India. It is the only mammal in India to face extinction as a result of excessive hunting. Talking abut the mammal, Indian Forest Service officer, Parveen Kaswan, said, “The last cheetah sighted in India was in 1952.”
While the green flag from supreme court is reinstalling hope for Cheetah’s reintroduction in India, there are a lot of complications involved. Many activists and biologists are voicing concerns about how India is not ready for an experiment like this. They are also pointing out that the entire project has not been thought through and might end us causing more harm than good.
We hope that everything goes well and the swift-runners record to their glory in India. Let’s see how the project of introducing African Cheetah in India unfolds. We have our fingers crossed.