Ahead of their maiden journey to Kuno Park, cheetahs undergo first health check-up in Namibia

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Cheetah | Photo: Azeez Mahe/ Mathrubhumi Yatra

Bhopal: The cheetahs, the potential candidates for the transfer to Madhya Pradesh's Kuno National Park (KNP), have undergone the first health examination conducted by a team of international experts of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Namibia.

This information was shared by the Indian High Commissioner in Windhoek, Namibia, through his official Twitter handle.

“Cheetahs, potential candidates fr (for) transfer to Kuno NP (National Park), MP (Madhya Pradesh) in due course, undergo thorough 1st health exam by int'l (international) team of experts @CCFCheetah (Cheetah Conservation Fund) led by renowned specialist Dr Laurie Marker. High Commissioner Prashant Agrawal was present. We thank Namibia MEFT (Namibia's Ministry of Environment and Tourism),” Indian High Commissioner's official account tweeted on Monday evening.

The cheetahs, expected to arrive in the KNP in the next month from South Africa and Namibia as part of an ambitious reintroduction project, need time to acclimatize due to the long journey and the change of environment, local officials said.

Cheetah | Photo: Azeez Mahe/ Mathrubhumi Yatra

Six leopards had entered the enclosure, spread over 5 square km, meant for cheetahs during an acclimatization phase at the KNP.

While two of them were chased away, efforts to drive out the rest four over several days are in vain, the officials admitted.

Now, two elephants from Satpura Tiger Reserve (STR) are being deployed to chase away these leopards, officials said on Sunday.

The elephants, along with their mahouts, embarked on the 800-kilometre journey to KNP from Sitapur Tiger Reserve on Sunday morning on trucks stocked with all essential items, STR Director L Krishnamurthy had told PTI.

MP Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) JS Chauhan had earlier said that the cheetahs may be under stress because of the long journey, due to which keeping them in an enclosure for acclimatization becomes necessary.

Cheetahs became extinct in India in 1952. The 'African Cheetah Introduction Project in India' has been underway since 2009, before picking up speed in the last few years.

While India has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Namibian government for the import of cheetahs, it is also in the process of inking agreements with private game reserves in South Africa and the government for more big cats, officials had said.

Most of the cheetahs to be imported to the KNP have been donated even as India is planning to buy some from private game reserves at USD 3,000-4,000 per animal, they had informed.


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