Cheetah’s back? African Cheetah to be introduced in Indian wild after SC order

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African Cheetah, cheetah in India, reintroduction of cheetah in India, National Tiger Conservation Authority NTCA, Supreme court decision on cheetah

Cheetah in India: India, which once prided itself with the presence of Asiatic Cheetah, hasn't had any in the wilderness since 1952. Extensive hunting, reduction of forest cover and illegal trafficking were some of the main reasons behind the extinction of the wildlife cheetah population in India. The only surviving cheetahs in India remain confined to zoos. Keeping the depleting population in mind, the Supreme Court of India on Tuesday allowed Centre to introduce African Cheetah from Namibia to suitable wildlife habitat in India.

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The decision of the apex court was based on the application filed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), in which it had sought the court's permission for the introduction of the wild creature. Following the NTCA application, the Supreme Court formed a three-member panel to guide the authority and take a decision on the matter.

A bench consisting of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant said that the Supreme Court will monitor the project. It further asked the panel to submit a report before the apex court every four months. The Supreme Court further said that the decision for the relocation of the African Cheetah will be taken after a proper survey has been conducted and the action of introducing the exotic animal into the Indian wildlife will be left to the discretion of the NTCA. The bench also said that the NTCA will be guided by the panel of experts, who will conduct a survey to determine the best location to introduce the African Cheetahs.

It was submitted before the Supreme Court that the African variety of the exotic cheetah will be introduced in habitat best suitable for it in India on an experimental basis to determine whether it will be able to adapt to the Indian conditions or not.

The NTCA had earlier also filed an application before the apex court, seeking permission to introduce the mighty cat, but the application was rejected by the SC in 2013, stating that the move could not be allowed since no detailed study had been conducted in India on how to introduce a foreign species in the Indian habitat. However, when the NTCA again filed a plea in this regard, highlighting the extinction of cheetah in the wilderness, in 2018, the apex court decided to hear the plea.