The cheetah, the world’s fastest cat, has a long history in India. In the 16th century, as many as 10,000 were said to have wandered into what was then the Mughal Empire. Less aggressive than other cats, the carnivore was popular, bred and bred by emperors and other members of the elite.
Love was less with the British settlers. The population declined sharply in the 19th century, in part due to British hunters and farmers who wanted to protect their livestock. In 1952, when India was independent for five years, the last leopard was seen. According to experts, the shrinking habitat due to urbanization and the lack of adequate food for cheetahs also played a role.
India has made previous attempts to recover the cheetah. In 1970, the country was about to relocate some of the Iranian Cheetahs, but negotiations stalled after the Shah of Iran was forced to resign. Now a deal has been struck with Namibia, which is home to more than a third of the world’s population of about 20,000 cheetahs.
Modi’s birthday present arrived on Saturday in a modified Boeing 747, accompanied by veterinarians and biologists. After those eight, five females and three males, there are at least thirteen others. According to the BBC, this is the first time a large carnivorous animal has been transported from one continent to another and returned to the wild.
After a month of quarantine to prevent them from spreading fearsome diseases, the eight leopards head to Kono National Park. The park, located in northern India, will have an area of 465 square kilometres, more than double the size of Amsterdam. Critics fear leopards are in danger, because there are dozens of leopards roaming. Cheetahs are more aggressive and powerful and can kill leopards.
But the Indian authorities assure that they will protect the cheetah well. Each leopard gets its own team of volunteers, who can track every movement the cheetah makes via the GPS tracker in their collar.
The other 13 leopards are scheduled to be distributed to other national parks in India. Indian conservation organizations are skeptical of the plan. Cheetahs would be too few to breed properly, threatening new extinctions very fast.
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