Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh to Receive Cheetahs


The cheetah has been world-renowned for its grace, beauty, and speed. Its range once extended all the way from Africa, through the Near East, and down into southern Asia. In India, it was kept as a companion by ancient maharajahs who used them for hunting blackbuck and other fast game. However, this magnificent species suffered dramatically from habitat loss and hunting for its spotted coat. In India, the last cheetah became extinct in 1947; the same year when the nation gained independence from the British Empire. But decades later, efforts to reintroduce the animal back into India were being made. At first, India asked Iran where the last remaining population of the Asiatic cheetah is currently living. But Iran refused, saying that it cannot afford to give away any of its cheetahs.

However, in recent times, India had been considering to import Africa's cheetahs in its deserts and grasslands. One of the chosen places is Kuno Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. The state's government has agreed to accommodate the animal in the sanctuary, which was originally said to be receiving Asiatic lions. But now, it appears that things are starting to change after a cheetah reintroduction presentation by the Wildlife Institute of India and the Wildlife Trust of India. According to Madhya Pradesh forest minister Satraj Singh, the state's chief minister has agreed to have cheetahs in the sanctuary and keep the proposal of having lions on hold. H.S Pabla, the state's principal forest secretary, stated that both Kuno and Nauradehi wildlife sanctuaries were offered for reintroducing the cheetah. He further stated that if they plan to have the cheetah in Nauradehi, they will have to shift 21 villages to make space for the animals.

Ever since I first heard the proposal about reintroducing the cheetah back into India, I was blown away. The animal, which once disappeared since the time of India's independence, is now making a comeback. Even more interesting is that the Indian government, along with some state governments, focused on where specifically in India to release the cheetah. Some of these states included Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Rajasthan because they are known to have desert and grassland-type habitats for the animals to live and hunt. However, this article also made a reference to an ongoing controversial debate of shifting lions from Gujarat and into Madhya Pradesh. Both of the states' governments met in the Supreme Court, and discussed their opinions. Gujarat stated that it does not want to transfer its lions in Kuno because of its few remaining tigers. And I think that Gujarat's government has made a right decision because of frequent clashes between the two animals and that they never coexist with one another. But for now, the debate has been put on hold due to this proposal on cheetah reintroduction. I personally think that it would be wise to have the cheetah in these wildlife sanctuaries. Because that way, the lion will continue living and flourishing in its Gujarati homeland which consists of dry savanna-type habitat and the cheetah will live in a habitat consisting of open grasslands and meadows to run and survive.

View article here

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