Cheetah never breeds in captivity and declared extinct in India in 1952. The last one died in Chhattisgarh in 1947. To be reintroduced this year.

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  • Expected to be re-introduced into the country in November this year at the Kuno National Park, MP. India to be home to 6 out of 8 big cats
  • 5 each, male and female donated by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) of South Africa.
  • To be completed in August, work on an enclosure for around 10 cheetahs has begun
  • Wildlife officials from India move to South Africa for sensitization and training in June and July this year
  • Actual relocation will take place in October and November says state Forest Minister Vijay Shah


  • Kuno, located in the Chambal region, is spread over an area of over 750 sq km and suited for cheetah. MP has a history of being home to cheetahs
  • The government selected the land for lion relocation in 1990 and 24 villages (5000 population) were resettled. The lions never came. Received the status of a national park in 2018
  • The abundance of prey including four-horned antelopes, chinkara, nilgai, wild boar, spotted deer, and sambar
  • Scientists from the WII and an expert from South Africa visited Kuno in April. They approved after inspecting the facilities and the habitat
  • Other than Kuno, the experts also visited three places in MP. The Nauradehi sanctuary in Sagar district, the Gandhi Sagar sanctuary on the northern boundary of Mandsaur and Neemuch districts, and the Madhav National Park in Shivpuri district. Few more animals might arrive


  • The approved budget for this fiscal for ‘Project Cheetah’ is Rs 14 crores. National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to release the funds to Madhya Pradesh and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) at Dehradun next month
  • Follows Supreme Court (SC) approval to introduce African cheetahs into suitable habitat in India on an experimental basis
  • SC three-member committee guiding the NTCA on the re-introduction. Members include former director Wildlife of India Ranjit Singh, DG of Wildlife of India Dhananjay Mohan and DIG, Wildlife, Ministry of Environment and Forests. The panel asked the WII to carry out a technical evaluation of all possible sites for the re-introduction

Vulnerable species

  • The only animal in Indian recorded history to become extinct from unnatural causes (hunted to extinction). Consequently, their grasslands became farmland
  • Less than 7,000 are found mostly in African savannas with numbers still dwindling
  • Cheetah is considered vulnerable under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list of threatened species


History in India

  • Over hunted into extinction during the Mughal Period, by Indian royalty and later by the British Raj. A large majority of the fastest animal on land was wiped out by the end of the 17th century
  • Large numbers of adults were trapped for assisting in hunts to trap wild antelope
  • Akbar had 1,000 cheetahs at one time and over 9000 over his lifetime
  • Hunters did not seem to mind them not breeding in captivity. Even if they did they would not survive without learning hunting skills from wild mothers
  • The last three known ones were shot dead by royalty from Koriya in 1948
  • In India, they roamed as far south as the southern tip of Tamil Nadu

Also Read: GATKA Origins and current status

History of re-intro

  • 1955, the State Wildlife Board of AP suggested the reintroduction. In 1965, the pros and cons of reintroduction were discussed. In 1984, a paper was written for the Ministry of Environment and Forests on the status of cheetah in India
  • In the 1970s, the Department of Environment, formally wrote to the Iranian government to ask for Asiatic cheetahs. In August 2009, Jairam Ramesh, the then Minister of Environment, asked Iran for sharing a few animals. They had low numbers by then and the plan was dropped. No more than 50 now roam in Iran’s central deserts scattered over 140,000 sqm