India seeks South Africa’s help for importing cheetahs

April 14th, 2010 - 7:23 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 14 (IANS) More than 60 years after they were wiped out from the country, India is now seeking help from South Africa for importing cheetahs to re-introduce them in jungles back home, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said here Wednesday.
The environment ministry is in touch with the wildlife authority in South Africa for importing the big cat.

“I will be in South Africa on April 25-26 and will seek their participation in cheetah re-introduction in India,” Ramesh told reporters.

Ramesh said that by May this year the ministry will have a detailed survey on feasibility of re-introduction of cheetahs in the country.

The survey, that will form the basis for the roadmap, is being carried out by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, in collaboration with the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and the state governments concerned.

“The survey is being conducted in six locations - three in Madhya Pradesh, two in Rajasthan and one in Gujarat,” he said.

The environment ministry last year gave the go-ahead to draft a detailed roadmap for the Cheetah Re-introduction Project, proposed by the WTI, and endorsed by wildlife experts.

The return of the cheetah would make India the only country in the world to host six of the world’s eight large cats and the only one to have all the large cats of Asia.

In the past, India’s last cheetah in the wild was said to have been shot in the Reva area of Madhya Pradesh in the 1940s.

The cheetah, the smallest of the big cats, can run faster than any other animal on land, at more than 100 km per hour.

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