Sunday, December 10, 2023

Special Indian aircraft lands in Namibia to bring home big cats

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The Indian High Commission on Thursday in Namibia published a photo of an airplane that had landed there to transport eight cheetahs to Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh, where they will establish a new home.

The creatures, which were extinct in India for more than seven decades, will be reintroduced on Saturday, September 17. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will turn 72 this year, celebrates his birthday on this day.

The Indian aircraft’s front has been painted to resemble a cheetah’s face, as shown in the high commission’s tweet.

The tweet from the Indian high commission stated, “A unique bird lands down in the Land of the Brave to bring goodwill emissaries to the Land of the Tiger.”

Eight cheetahs, five female, and three male will be kept in the main cabin of the airplane, and veterinarians will have complete access to the large cats for the whole flight. In order to save the animals from getting motion sickness throughout the lengthy intercontinental travel, they won’t be fed.

In order to go to Kuno-Palpur National Park in Bhopal, the plane would first land in Jaipur, Rajasthan, according to the principal chief conservator of forests for Madhya Pradesh JS Chauhan. On Saturday between six and seven in the morning, the cheetahs will arrive in Rajasthan, where they will be transferred to a helicopter and flown to Kuno.

To greet the big cats, Modi will be present at the national park.

The cheetahs will spend their first month in India in small cages before being moved to larger ones for a few months to help them acclimate to their environment, according to Chauhan. He stated that they will later be released into the wild.

The two cheetahs that are “best friends” and stay together at all times have received vaccinations and satellite collars. Their arrival in India will mark the conclusion of a 12-year cooperation effort between the Indian government and experts and Namibia’s Cheetah Conservation Foundation (CCF) to rescue cheetahs in the wild.

In May, the agreement between Namibia and India was completed. CCF founder Laurie Maker expressed her “thrill” and “extraordinary pride” in the translocation endeavour. This effort would not have been possible without thorough study and commitment to cheetah conservation, she continued.

After the last one died in 1947, the cheetah was formally declared extinct in India in 1952. Cheetahs, one of the oldest large cat species, had a once-vast distribution over Asia and Africa and had ancestors that date back around 8.5 million years. Less than 9% of the big cats’ historical habitat is already occupied, and there are just around 7,500 left in the wild.

2009 saw the beginning of the African Cheetah Introduction Project in India. Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, big cats at Kuno were not reintroduced by November of last year, according to officials.

Read more: Reintroduction of Cheetas will boost tourism in Chambal region: MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan

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