Almost 70 years after being declared extinct, the Cheetah is returning to India. The last cheetah spotted in the wild, died in Chhattisgarh in 1947.
Until the 20th century, the Asiatic cheetah was quite common. It roamed all the way from Israel, the Arabian Peninsula to Iran, Afghanistan and India. The Asiatic cheetah, also known as the “hunting leopard” in India was kept by kings and princes to hunt gazelle.
By the beginning of the twentieth century, the species was already heading for extinction in many areas. There were certain places more affected by this problem than others. The Indian reserves were not very thoughtful when creating habitat loss for these oversized cats. The last physical evidence of the Asiatic cheetah in India was thought to be three. All shot by the Maharajah Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo of Surguja State in 1948. A female was sighted in Koriya district in Chhattisgarh, in 1951. With the death of the last remaining population of the Asiatic cheetah in India, the species was declared extinct in India. It is the only animal in recorded history to become extinct from India due to unnatural causes.
Early relocation efforts
The debate over whether cheetah reintroduction compatible with the stated aims of wildlife conservation, started soon after extinction was confirmed. In 1955, the former State Wildlife Board of Andhra Pradesh suggested the reintroduction of the Asiatic cheetah in at least in two districts of the state. On an experimental basis.
In the 1970s, the Department of Environment formally wrote to the Iranian government to request Asiatic cheetahs in use for reintroduction and apparently received a positive response. The talks were stalled after the Shah of Iran was deposed in the Iranian Revolution, and the negotiations never progressed.
Cheetah is returning to India
Kuno National Park is currently ready for reintroduction of cheetah. By November 2021, eight cheetahs (including five males and three females) will be traversed over 8,000Km from South Africa. The park, spread over 750sqkm in Chambal. It is home to sizeable population of antelopes, nilgai, wild boars, spotted deer and sambar, offering ample prey for the Cheetahs.
The reintroduction this year promises the beginning of an entirely new chapter, with conservation at the forefront.