Cheetahs arriving from Namibia as part of the Cheetah reintroduction to India will be denied food throughout their transit, a senior forest department official said. He said it is to avoid complications during a long journey that will already cause a nausea-like feeling in animals.
Eight cheetahs travel from Namibia to Jaipur, Rajasthan, and then another hour to reach Kuno-Palpur National Park in Bhopal, according to JS Chauhan, Madhya Pradesh’s chief forest manager. He said that as a precautionary measure, it is mandatory that an animal has an empty stomach when the journey begins.
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On September 17, between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., the cheetahs will arrive in India by cargo plane in the capital Rajasthan. From there, they are transferred to a helicopter and taken to Kuno National Park in Bhopal.
Environment ministry officials made arrangements regarding the intercontinental cheetah translocation project and were in contact with Namibian authorities, the forest official said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will quarantine three cheetahs on September 17, which marks his birthday, as part of the cheetah recovery initiative, seven decades after the animal went extinct in India.
The cheetahs will be housed in small enclosures for a month after arrival, followed by larger ones for a few months to help them acclimate and become comfortable with their environment, the MP’s ranger said. Later, they will be released into the wild, he said.
“We have set up six small quarantine enclosures under the legal mandate required while moving animals from one continent to another,” an official said earlier. According to the protocol, the animals must each be quarantined for a month before and after they move from one continent to another, he said.
The cheetah was officially declared extinct in 1952 after the latter died in India in 1947. The African Cheetah Introduction Project in India was set up later in 2009. The big cat’s introduction to Kuno National Park last November was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, officials said.
(With inputs from PTI)