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August 8, 2022
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Wild cheetahs to return to India for first time since 1952

Officials announce eight cats will be brought from Namibia in effort to reintroduce animal to its former habitat

Cheetahs are to return to India’s forests this August for the first time in more than 70 years, officials have announced.

Eight wild cats from Namibia will roam freely at Kuno-Palpur national park in the state of Madhya Pradesh in efforts to reintroduce the animal to their natural habitat.

Despite being a vital part of India’s ecosystem, the cheetah was declared extinct from the country in 1952 because of habitat loss and poaching. Cheetahs can reach speeds of up to 70mph (113km/h), making them the world’s fastest land animal.

Only about 7,000 cheetahs remain in the wild worldwide and the animals are classified as a vulnerable species under the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list of threatened species. Namibia has the world’s largest population of cheetahs.

Officials have been working to relocate the animals since 2020, after India’s supreme court announced that African cheetahs could be brought back in a “carefully chosen location”.

The move coincides with the nation’s 75th Independence Day, celebrating cheetahs as an important part of India’s cultural heritage.

India’s environment minister, Bhupender Yadav, tweeted: “Completing 75 glorious years of Independence with restoring the fastest terrestrial flagship species, the cheetah, in India, will rekindle the ecological dynamics of the landscape.”

He added: “Cheetah reintroduction in India has a larger goal of re-establishing ecological function in Indian grasslands that was lost due to extinction of Asiatic cheetah. This is in conformity with IUCN guidelines on conservation translocations.”

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