NEW DELHI: With the Supreme Court giving go ahead for re-introduction of Cheetah from Africa, that got extinct nearly seven decades ago, Gujarat has already approached the Centre to host the big cat. Also in queue s are Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. A top environment ministry official said that Gujarat is “very keen” to host the fastest animal on earth and has already approached the ministry to consider it for the re-introduction. However, the final call will be taken by Supreme Court -appointed committee headed by M K Ranjitsinh, a renowned wildlife conservationist.
“Initially, Kuno-Palpur was selected as the habitat for Cheetah re-introduction and now we were told that the delay of 10 years has impacted the habitat and has deteriorated along with prey base,” said the environment ministry official. The official said that the committee will relook into all aspects — scientific study of likely survival of the cheetah and habitat where it can survive. “Gujarat is very keen to reintroduce Cheetah in Gujarat. We are ready to implement but the decision has to come from the committee. What kind of habitat and compatibility as leopard and tigers coexists but cheetah and tiger cannot coexist,” the official added.
Interestingly, Gujarat is the only abode of Asiatic Lions in the world. Despite a Supreme Court order on lion translocation to Madhya Pradesh, the state has remained averse to part with them. Ranjitsinh says that he is expected to meet Union Environment minister Prakash Javadekar following SC order and convene meeting of the four-member committee. “Cheetah will come to India with certain conditions and when you bring from Africa, you will lose some species definitely. We have to revisit the areas (habitat) and do the entire exercise dispassionately and not on basis of states showing interest,” added Ranjitsinh. The last cheetah in India was reportedly hunted in 1947 by Maharaja Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo in Surguja, Madhya Pradesh (now in Chhattisgarh). The plan to reintroduce was initiated by then environment minister Jairam Ramesh.
Landscapes suggested by WII report
- Chhattisgarh: Guru Ghasidas National Park
- Gujarat: Banni Grasslands
- Madhya Pradesh: Dubri Wildlife Sanctuary, Sanjay National Park, Bagdara Wildlife Sanctuary, Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary and Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary
- Rajasthan: Desert National Park and Shahgarh Grasslands
- Uttar Pradesh: Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary