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Cheetahs UPSC NOTE

 Cheetah in India

  • On September 17, 2022, eight African cheetahs from Namibia, three males and five females, arrived on Indian soil, kickstarting Project Cheetah, India’s ambitious attempt to bring the world’s fastest land animal back to the country

  • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species categorises the cheetah as ‘vulnerable’– facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. 

  • The bulk of the current distribution is in Africa with their population estimated to be around 6500 adult cats as per the 2021 estimate of IUCN

  • Earlier, both the Indian royalty and the British officials stationed in the country captured these animals for sport-hunting, and they were treated like pet dogs or hounds, used for the coursing of blackbuck from the 1550s

  • All this collectively led to a dramatic population decline of these cats, and over time, their extinction. 

  • In 1952, the Asiatic cheetah was declared extinct in India

Conservation complexities

  • An action plan for the introduction of cheetahs in India was prepared by the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun. 

  • It claimed that bringing back a top predator would not just revive the cheetah population in India, but have other positive ecological consequences due to its cascading effects on the biodiversity in the ecosystems they inhabit – grasslands, scrublands, and open forests. 

  • It also argued that the protection of cheetahs would lead to the restoration and better management of these ecosystems

  • But the action plan has come in for criticism by many experts.

  • Not only is it a very expensive project that hasn’t properly considered potential risks like disease, more serious in a small population with limited genetic diversity in an alien environment, but it is also based on this false assumption that India has the space for cheetahs in the wild

  • The Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh where the cheetahs from Namibia and South Africa have been introduced, is around 748 sq km, lacking the capacity to sustain the 21 cheetahs as estimated by the Cheetah Action Plan

  • India’s conservation ethos and culture do not allow for fencing and the South African model cannot be replicated.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Cheetahs UPSC NOTE
Cheetahs UPSC NOTE
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