National Park

Reintroduction of cheetahs: helipads will be created in MP Kuno National Park

At least seven helipads are being built in and around Kuno National Park (KNP) in Sheopur district, Madhya Pradesh, where the cheetah reintroduction project will be carried out, officials said.

A team from South Africa (SA) is due to arrive there on Tuesday, they said.

Wildlife Institute of India (WII) Dean and Senior Professor Yadvendradev Vikramsinh Jhala, who plays an important role in the cheetah transfer plan, is also expected to reach KNP on Tuesday, an official said.

The helipads are under construction as Prime Minister Narendra Modi could arrive to inaugurate the ambitious project, under which cheetahs will be brought in from South Africa and Namibia.

Three helipads are being built inside KNP and four outside the park for the expected VVIP movement, a senior official said. PTI. When asked if the Prime Minister would inaugurate the project on his birthday on September 17, the official did not confirm, saying things would soon be clear.

Sheopur Public Works Department Executive Engineer Sankalp Golya confirmed PTI that the helipads are under construction. “We have no official written information that the Prime Minister will come on September 17,” said Senior Conservative Deputy Chief Forestry (Wildlife) JS Chauhan. PTI. “We have not received any official written information regarding the arrival of the cheetahs on September 17. In all likelihood, the Cheetahs will arrive at KNP this month. But I cannot confirm that they will land on September 17,” he said.

Meanwhile, a team from South Africa, which was at Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan, is expected to arrive in KNP on Tuesday, a forestry official said.

South Africa has not yet signed a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the export of cheetahs from there. Naturally, the team comes to KNP to solve some problems before sending the animals.

Officials said cheetahs had been quarantined in Namibia and were ready to be flown to India.

Last month, India was supposed to remove the spotted animals from both countries, but the plan didn’t work.

The cheetahs will be kept in an enclosure for two to three months before being released into the wild, officials said. Twelve cheetahs, including four to five females, were vaccinated and quarantined for a month as part of preparations to airlift them to India, they said.

“Intensive hunting of cheetahs and loss of habitat led to their extinction. The last three cheetahs were killed by the Raja of Korea in the forests that are now part of Ghasidas National Park,” said the expert from The last cheetah died in the country in 1947 in the Korean district of present-day Chhattisgarh, formerly part of Madhya Pradesh, and the species was declared extinct in 1952.

The ‘Introduction of African Cheetahs to India Project’ was conceived in 2009 and a plan to introduce the big cat by November last year to KNP suffered a setback due to the Covid-19 pandemic. , officials said. “KNP has a good prey base for cheetahs. WII experts also detached the area. Madhya Pradesh was previously home to cheetahs. Additionally, he had a good translocation record as the tigers were successfully reintroduced to Panna in 2009,” an official said.