Madhya Pradesh Government seeks revival of Cheetah Reintroduction Project
Madhya Pradesh forest department has written to National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to revive its Cheetah Reintroduction Project to reintroduce Cheetahs in Nauradehi sanctuary located in Sagar district of state. The ambitious project was conceived in 2009 but had hit roadblock for want of funds.
Cheetah, fastest land animal was declared extinct in India in 1952. India’s last spotted Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus) had died in Chhattisgarh in 1947. This species was hunted into extinction by British colonial officers and Indian royalty. According to earlier action plan, around 20 cheetahs were to be translocated to Nauradehi from Namibia in Africa. Namibia Cheetah Conservation Fund had then showed its willingness to donate felines to India However, State was not ready to finance plan contending that it was the Centre’s project.
In 2011, NTCA, a statutory body under Union Environment Ministry had committed Rs.50 crore to State for this project. Dehradun based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) also had prepared Rs. 260 crore Cheetah Re-introduction Project in 2012. It was estimated that Rs. 25 crore to Rs. 30 crore will be needed to build enclosure with huge boundary walls in area of 150 sq km for introduction and protection of Cheetahs in Nauradehi before releasing them in wild. Nauradehi sanctuary was found to be most suitable area for reintroduction of Cheetahs as its forests are not very dense to restrict fast movement of Cheetahs and also has abundant prey base.