It is the survival of the fittest for Indian fauna

Cheetahs have returned to India. It has been more than 70 long years since the last of the Asian cheetahs were hunted in India by royalty and the rich. Completely sweeping out a species is not child’s play. A real effort has been made, and obviously not in a good way. It took real men and women and great “courage” to bring down the “beast”. The pride they must have felt!

However, in over 70 years, eight cousins ​​of the Asian cheetah from Namibia were brought to India on September 17, 2022.


Cheetah Project is an ambitious project by the Indian government to re-establish the species in its former natural range in India. The Cheetah project is also the first intercontinental translocation project of large wild carnivores in the world.

After a long 10-hour flight from Windhoek in Namibia to Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, and then finally to Palpur-Kuno National Park, the eight young cheetahs have finally been released to a quarantined enclosure in the park where they will be observed for some time.

It is the survival of the fittest for Indian fauna

One can’t help but wonder, but these are African species. How will they fare in the wilds of India? It’s not that they came from a similar ecosystem. This one-of-a-kind immigration is something everyone is waiting to see how it turns out. It is a completely new addition to the list of the best large wild Indian carnivores. Even though they are cheetahs, they are not even from the same continent, and this has caused a lot of debate in the media.

We, a Travel timewe have decided that we will hear from the same experts on the subject.

Speaking with us on the topic of the outcome of the African cheetah relocation project, Praveen Rao Koli, retired Indian Forest Service (IFS) official and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Uttar Pradesh, said: “The authorities must pay utmost care and precaution when it comes to relocating the animals. This is a case of intercontinental translocation, which means that these cheetahs are removed from their native soil in a completely alien ecosystem. Great care must be taken to protect cats from any type of microbial infection. Otherwise, it could bring back the unfortunate situation of 2014 in Etawah, UP, where two Asiatic lions died within a month of relocation ”.

It is the survival of the fittest for Indian fauna

We also spoke with Vivek Menon, Founder and ED – Wildlife Trust of India, Advisor of the IUCN and President of AsESG, Sr Advisor IFAW, on the subject of the reintroduction of the cheetah in the Indian fauna (the African cheetah to be precise), in an alien ecosystem and what kind of impact it will have on the ecosystem and introduced species.

“I think bringing back all the species we have lost is a good thing. We have to be bold in many of the management issues and not depend on very conservative thoughts. Cheetahs genetically went through a bottleneck 10,000 years ago, and there is. there is not much difference between an African or an Asian cheetah. At best we are talking about subspecies. Many of the animals we have in India have subspecies. There is absolutely no problem getting them to India, “said Vivek Menon.

We cannot talk about reintroducing species without addressing the elephant in the room, species that are currently on the verge of extinction.

It is the survival of the fittest for Indian fauna

An endangered Bengali Florican from Assam

Asked about the significance of this cheetah episode for the species, which will share the same ecosystem and which are also some of the most endangered species in the world struggling to survive, Vivek Menon added: “If anything, it’s a good thing. At a later stage, when the next generations of cheetahs enter habitats that have these threatened species, that habitat will receive more protection. What we will not do for the caracal or the Great Indian Bustard (both endangered) we will do for the cheetah because he is more charismatic and attracts people’s attention. Other species will also benefit. “

“Lion conservation is important, tiger conservation is important, bustard conservation is important, bringing back the cheetah is also important. We have to find ways to do everything, not one,” he added.

It is the survival of the fittest for Indian fauna

Indian student from Nashik

We can only hope this works for cheetahs and Indian fauna in general because where this topic is discussed, there will be some words not only for the conservation of other endangered species in India, but also for the conservation of the forest and grassland ecosystem.

Other endangered species in India

Speaking of conservation, in India, according to the Red Data Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are 13 critically endangered bird species and 34 species identified as critically endangered in the class of mammals, reptiles, fish and amphibians.

Animals such as the snow leopard, bustard (including floricans), hangul (Kashmiri deer), Nilgiri tahr, pygmy pig, Asiatic wild buffalo, Manipur front horned deer, Asiatic lion, swamp deer, to name a few, are all on the verge of extinction, mainly due to illegal hunting and habitat loss.

It is the survival of the fittest for Indian fauna

Tamenglong Chinese Pangolin, Manipur (rescued and released into the wild)

Among them, there is a silent victim of poaching and habitat loss: the Chinese pangolin.

Did you know that there is a remote corner in Manipur, which could also be one of the last natural habitats for these Chinese pangolins? The exact location is kept secret by the environmentalists working on this, as it also comes with the problem of international animal trafficking.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Pangolins are the busiest mammals in the world. The Corbett Foundation, along with the Tamenglong Rainforest Club (Tamenglong-based non-profit organization) and the Manipur Forest Department, are currently working on conserving the Chinese pangolin and restoring its habitat.

Several views of Parveen Kaswan, IFS, also shed light on what happened to the cheetah population in India. Before they went extinct, the big cats were mutilated, hunted and tamed for further hunting. There is recorded evidence that Mughal Emperor Akbar made hunting expeditions with cheetahs that were part of his hunting company. Mr. Kaswan also shared a recording of an advertisement from the then Indian government inviting tourists to come to the country to hunt in its “lush jungles”.

When a mega move like moving a cheetah comes into play, you can’t help but hope that the same level of enthusiasm and interest will be reserved for other species as well. Survival of the fittest they say, but all these animals also deserve a chance to fight, they deserve a habitat. Just like what we have provided for cheetahs.

  1. What is the Cheetah Project?
    The Cheetah project is an ambitious project by the Indian government to re-establish the species in its former natural range in India. The Cheetah project is also the first intercontinental translocation project of large wild carnivores in the world.
  2. How many critically endangered species are there in India?
    According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Data Book, there are 13 endangered bird species and 34 species identified as critically endangered in the class of mammals, reptiles, fish and amphibians.
  3. Where is the Kuno National Park?
    Kuno National Park is located in Madhya Pradesh



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