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Cheetah Reintroduction in India

Brazil Matias Offline
Regular Member

Recalling the attitudes that the State of Gujarat has had over the years towards lions, in order of preference (obviously political, not ecological), it would be the last state to be considered apt to receive the cheetahs.

"Despite the many reservations I have regarding the relocation of the lions in Kuno-Palpur... it would be good for Gujarat to taste some of its own venom."
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United States Ovie11 Offline
Regular Member

Work to set up enclosures for 12 cheetahs from South Africa begins in Kuno

THE Madhya Pradesh government is preparing to set up quarantine bomas (enclosures) within the existing 5 sq km enclosure for another dozen cheetahs which are expected to arrive from South Africa at the Kuno-Palpur National Park before the end of the year. The first batch of eight cheetahs from Namibia reached the park on September 17.

“A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the South African government and India is at an advanced stage. It is only a matter of time before the MoU is signed, clearing the decks for the translocation project. Once done, we will expedite the process of translocating the cheetahs,” said Ashok Barnwal, Principal Secretary (Forest), Madhya Pradesh.

The location to set up quarantine bomas for the 12 cheetahs arriving from South Africa has been identified, said Uttam Sharma, Chief Conservator of Forest at Kuno-Palpur National Park.

“We have begun procurement of material for the bomas.

Backed with the experience of setting up the six quarantine bomas for the eight cheetahs from Namibia, it will take us less than 15 days to set up similar bomas for the big cats from South Africa,” he said.

State forest department officials said the South African delegation was satisfied with the situation on the ground. The delegation is expected to submit a report to the South African government following its review of the quarantine enclosures for cheetahs in the Kuno park. The South African government will take a final call on sending cheetahs after a meeting on October 4.

Y V Jhala, Dean, Wildlife Institute of India (WII), told The Indian Express that a four-member delegation from South Africa, which visited the parks in Kuno and adjoining Ranthambore in September, was initially apprehensive about the survival of cheetahs in India.

“The delegation saw that tigers, which are fiercer than cheetahs, were living in Ranthambore with merely a boundary wall dividing the forest area from the rural population. The cheetahs are far less a threat to human life and livestock,” he said.

In the meantime, Sheopur district that houses the Kuno-Palpur National Park is preparing for a massive awareness drive, covering not only the 151 villages of Kuno wildlife division but the adjacent wildlife division as well.

Bhupendra Yadav, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, is expected to visit Sheopur mid-October to participate in the awareness drive and also explore avenues of ecotourism with joint meetings of officials from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Reintroduction of an extinct species would be considered successful only after a viable meta-population is established not only in Kuno but in at least two-three more reserves in India. The Cheetah Action Plan, released in January this year, notes that a short-term success would be survival of 50 per cent of the translocated cheetahs in the first year.

State forest officials noted that the new batch of cheetahs in mid-October will take their total number in Kuno to 20. Going by the Cheetah Action Plan, even if 10 of these survive the first year, it will be seen as a short-term success.

The cheetahs are expected to come in close contact with human settlements after their release from the soft enclosure. Jhala said sharing the revenue earned from cheetah tourism with the local community will also help in developing a safe environment for the big cat’s reintroduction.

“The land rate in Sheopur has gone up multi-fold, and this is a bubble. There needs to be a viable and consistent revenue model that needs to be worked out for the local community such as sharing 30 per cent of the gate revenue of the National Park. The villagers have to see the economic benefits of the programme,” Jhala said.

The Cheetah Action Plan also points out that 40 per cent of the tourist revenue would be ploughed back in the buffer zone towards local community welfare, with preference to those communities that have been resettled from within Kuno National Park.

Divisional Forest Officer, PK Verma said during the awareness campaign in October, apart from making the villagers understand the difference between a cheetah and a leopard, the villagers are also being made aware of the various jobs they can apply for including tourist guides, guards, and safari organisers. “We will be training them for these jobs,” he said.

Kuno National Park is also getting specialised sniffer dogs to locate snares laid not just by poachers but also by the villagers to catch any herbivore that might come to their field or near their settlement.

“We want to ensure there is no accidental injury or killing of any cheetahs in any of these snares. We presently have one dog from our Jabalpur unit which is being deployed in and around market places and villages. More such dogs are set to arrive,” said CCF Uttam Sharma.
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United States Ovie11 Offline
Regular Member

Kuno National Park: Cheetahs complete 41 days in quarantine, to be released in wild soon

BHOPAL: The first meeting of the special task Force constituted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for monitoring Cheetah introduction in 
Kuno National Park
, Madhya Pradesh and other suitable designated areas, ended with a decision to complete pending works in a week.

While officers concerned could not be contacted for their comment, sources say that there the members had a detailed discussion over various issues. Sources informed that some officers stressed on more preparations inside Kuno before releasing the eight cheetahs to larger enclosures, and this might take a couple of weeks. 

According to the schedule, cheetahs were to be shifted on October 17 so that they better acclimatize to their new environment and start the prey base to begin hunting, said officers. Since 

Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), Namibia and other experts wanted more arrangements prior to shifting, the plan was changed. Some issues have to be resolved before they are shifted to the bigger bomas.

Officers have to go through a very long checklist before considering moving the cheetahs to the bomas. CCF too has reportedly sent a recommendation to the task force. Major concern was to increase the height of internal fences which are less than 2m high. They believe that cheetahs can go over it. 

Similarly, experts wanted MP forest to keep rocks all along the fence to avoid bridges under it that can be dug by boars. Only a small portion of the internal fence has been electrified so far, said sources. The division of one boma was pending and Cheetahs won’t be able to hunt in this boma currently, until the work is done, say sources. Supply for the water points in the bomas has to be sorted out. 

Officers also want the network to be improved at the forest guard's rest house to be able to access GPS data and monitor cheetahs in real time, post-release. The Cheetah monitoring team at Kuno also needs special tracking equipment and a proper meat storage facility, especially for when more cheetahs arrive. The current solar array powering the refrigeration unit is not strong enough to keep meat cold on cloudy days. Concerns have been raised regarding the construction of the new quarantine enclosures for the South African cheetahs.

The Task Force which is to take all major decisions shall be in-force for a period of two years. They have the power to appoint a subcommittee to regularly visit the Cheetah introduction area as and when decided by them. Cheetah restoration is part of a prototype or model for restoration of original cheetah habitats and their biodiversity. 

Meeting of the task force was on till the filing of this report. 

Task Force has been constituted to:

Review, progress and monitor the health status of Cheetah, upkeep of the quarantine & soft release enclosures, protection status of entire area, adherence to the defined protocols by forest & veterinary officials and advice on Cheetah introduction in India to the 

Madhya Pradesh Forest Department

 and NTCA on status of Cheetah with respect to overall health, behavior and their upkeep. 

Monitor hunting skills and adaptation of Cheetahs to the habitat of Kuno National Park. 

Monitor release of 

Cheetah from Quarantine

 bomas to soft release enclosures and then to grassland and open forest areas. 

Open Cheetah habitat for eco-tourism and suggest regulations in this regard. 

Suggest and advice on development of tourism infrastructure in the fringe areas of Kuno National Park and other Protected Areas. 

Regularly interact with Cheetah mitras and local communities for their awareness raising and also involvement in protection of Cheetahs in particular & area in general.
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United States Ovie11 Offline
Regular Member

Madhya Pradesh: Two cheetahs released to larger bomas inside Kuno

BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh Forest department on Saturday released two male cheetahs –Rockstars ‘Elton and Freddie’ into the larger enclosure after approval from the cheetah special task force. Remaining six would be shifted once the leopard is captured, said sources.

All eight cheetahs are likely to be released in the larger bomas by November 5. The special task Force constituted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for monitoring Cheetah introduction in Kuno National Park, Madhya Pradesh and other suitable designated areas had its meeting on Saturday evening where they decided to release two of them, sources informed. 

As scheduled, cheetahs were to be shifted on October 17 so that they better acclimatize to their new environment and start the prey base to begin hunting, said officers.

Since Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), Namibia and other experts wanted more arrangements prior to shifting, the plan was changed. Some issues have to be resolved before they are shifted to the bigger bomas. 

Officers have to go through a very long checklist before considering moving the cheetahs to the bomas. CCF too had reportedly sent a recommendation to the task force. Major concern was to increase the height of internal fences which are less than 2m high. They believe that cheetahs can go over it. 

NTCA had come down heavily on the state forest department over the preparations during the meeting, said sources. The Task Force which is to take all major decisions shall be in-force for a period of two years.

Meanwhile a young female leopard had been giving tough time to the officials. Officers almost believed that no leopards were left inside the enclosures till the young female was captured in a camera trap and her pug marks were found on Wednesday. Fresh efforts are now being made to capture the leopard using snares. 
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United States Ovie11 Offline
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African cheetahs at Kuno National Park kill cheetal, make history

After 51 days in India, including two days in a special prey-stocked enclosure where they were released inside Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park, two [color=var(--linkcolor)]cheetahs from Africa [/color]made history by making their first kill during the intervening night of November 6-7.

The two male cheetahs, ‘Freddy’ and ‘Elton’, had been released from quarantine on the evening of November 5 into the bigger enclosure that is stocked with natural prey base. They brought down a cheetal stag (spotted deer). The milestone is significant in the process of introduction of cheetahs at Kuno because it indicates that the wild cats are willing to adapt to their new home. The event is also interesting because the translocated African cheetahs had, till now, never seen a cheetal—the deer is neither found in Namibia, from where the cheetahs were brought to India, nor the entire African continent. 

The enclosure where the cheetahs have been released have cheetal, blue bull, four-horned antelope, wild boar and Indian gazelle as prey base. The prey base can be widened if required. 

Describing the kill, J.S. Chauhan, chief wildlife warden, Madhya Pradesh, said: “Soon after they were released [into their new enclosure] on November 5, the cheetahs made an attempt to hunt down a cheetal. That failed, but they successfully killed another cheetal during the intervening night of November 6-7. This marks a significant step in the cheetah reintroduction process in India.“ 

[color=var(--linkcolor)]Eight African cheetahs—five females and three males—were translocated from Namibia and released by PM Narendra Modi at the Kuno National Park on September 17. As per the protocol worked out by experts, the cheetahs were first placed in a quarantine enclosure for a month-long observation. They were being fed buffalo meat.

However, owing to certain issues, the experts had not allowed the release of the cheetahs from quarantine to the prey-stocked enclosure after a month. Eventually, clearance came, beginning with the release of Freddy and Elton on November 5. An attempt had also been made for the release of a third male cheetah, but a minor malfunction with the capture equipment has delayed this process by a few weeks.

The five females would be released into the prey-stocked enclosure only after a female leopard, which is still inside the enclosure, has been captured and relocated. This is to avoid a confrontation between cheetahs and leopards as this will endanger the African imports. 

Experts involved in the introduction process have maintained that making their first kill would be a critical step for the cheetahs. For one, the cheetahs would be seeing prey animals they have never spotted in Africa. Secondly, some of the translocated cheetahs are not from a totally wild background. Hence, making a kill may not come naturally to them at first. But experts believe the cheetahs would eventually hunt successfully as their natural instincts would take over.
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United States Ovie11 Offline
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Cheetahs make their 2nd kill, MP forest officials seek permission to introduce big cats in 2 more sanctuaries

Freddie and Elton, two of the eight cheetahs brought to Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park from Namibia, made their second kill on Wednesday evening, once again killing a cheetal or spotted deer, forest officials said.

The second kill was made nearly three days after they made their first kill on the evening of November 6. The first kill was made within 24 hours of their release into a larger enclosure at the national park. According to forest officials, the two cheetahs nearly finished off about 25-30 kg of their kill.

“Considering that they kill every once in two-three days, we were expecting them to make the kill soon. The monitoring team had also spotted them making a chase last evening,” a forest official said, requesting anonymity.

The kill was spotted on Thursday morning after the monitoring team, which is expected to spot the two male brothers physically every day to ensure their safety, was inside Boma 4, the larger enclosure. The monitoring team traces the animals inside the wild tracking their satellite collar along with Very High Frequency (VHF) collars that enable the tracking team to physically locate and monitor the two cheetahs.

On the evening of November 5, around 6 pm, Freddie and Elton became the first two of the eight cheetahs to be released in a larger enclosure after remaining in quarantine for nearly 50 days. Within an hour of their release, Freddie and Elton were spotted chasing a black buck but were not successful in making the kill as it was a huge animal.

The eight cheetahs, including three male and five female cheetahs, were flown down to India on September 17 as a part of an inter-continental translocation for reintroducing cheetahs in India. The ambitious reintroduction project aims to establish a cheetah metapopulation in India nearly 75 years after the last cheetah was killed in India in 1947. Cheetahs were declared extinct in India in 1952. 

MP forest officials are also working to make arrangements for more cheetahs in Nauradehi forest sanctuary in Sagar and Gandhi Sagar Sanctuary in Mandsaur. A proposal has been sent to the Madhya Pradesh government by forest officials two days ago seeking permission to make necessary arrangements.

According to Chief Wildlife Warden J S Chauhan, the proposal has been sent as arrangements will have to be made for cheetahs in these two sanctuaries as Kuno-Palpur National Park only has a carrying capacity of 25 cheetahs.

The Government of India is also working with South Africa to receive another 12 cheetahs. When these cheetahs will be brought in and introduced in Kuno-Palpur National Park, it will take the total population of cheetahs in Kuno to 20.

According to forest officials, when five of the quarantined female cheetahs are released, they will begin to have litters. Coupled with the 12 cheetahs brought in from South Africa, it will exceed Kuno-Palpur’s carrying capacity.

Officials are hopeful of getting 12 cheetahs from South Africa after a team from South Africa which has come to review the preparations in Kuno-Palpur is said to have submitted a favourable report about the conditions in India, senior officials from the Madhya Pradesh government pointed out.

Considering this, as part of the preparation, the proposal to introduce cheetahs in Nauradehi and Gandhi Sagar has been sent. Both Nauradehi and Gandhi Sagar sanctuaries in Madhya Pradesh were considered suitable sites for phase two of the Cheetah Introduction Project towards establishing a cheetah metapopulation in India.
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Ashutosh Offline
( This post was last modified: 11-17-2022, 11:21 PM by Ashutosh )

A new stumbling block has emerged for the reintroduced cheetahs. The natural predatory instincts amongst the two brothers Freddie and Elton has been dampened by the news that a male tiger coded T136 from Ranthambore is on his way to Kuno using an existing wildlife corridor. 

This has really put the cat amongst the pigeons as far as the cheetah reintroduction is concerned. Dealing with leopards is one thing, but, tigers are a kettle of fish that these cheetahs have never encountered before.
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Brazil Matias Offline
Regular Member

Since when are tigers obstacles in the Kuno-Palpur landscape?

What this really means: "The department should come up with a plan in this regard," said one forestry official".

When a local feline species (tiger) is removed from its natural range to accommodate a new alien species, we find that everyone is crazy!!!”
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United States Ovie11 Offline
Regular Member

Third Cheetah Of 8 Moves Into Acclimatisation Enclosure In Madhya Pradesh

The number of cheetahs that have been moved from their quarantine area into the acclimatisation enclosure in Madhya Pradesh's Kuno National Park reached three on Friday after big cat Obaan joined male siblings Alton and Freddie, a senior forest official said.

Eight cheetahs were flown into the state from Namibia in southern Africa on September 17 as part of an ambitious initiative to reintroduce the big cat into the country and they were released into the quarantine zone in KNP by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"Obaan was released into the larger enclosure, spread over an area of five square kilometres, from the quarantine zone today. Elton and Freddie were moved to the acclimatization enclosure on November 5," KNP Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Prakash Kumar Verma told PTI.

The other five cheetahs would also be shifted to the large enclosure this month, officials said.
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United States Ovie11 Offline
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MP: Last leopard roaming in enclosure meant for cheetahs in KNP sneaks out into wild

The sixth and last leopard roaming in a larger enclosure meant for cheetahs in Madhya Pradesh's Kuno Palpur National Park (KNP) has come out and sneaked into the wild, an official said.

Six leopards had entered the acclimatisation enclosures before the arrival of eight cheetahs from Namibia in September. Five of the leopards were evacuated earlier and the last one left the enclosure on Friday.
"The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has informed as per camera traps that the last leopard came out of the enclosure on Friday," Kuno's Divisional Forest Officer Prakash Kumar Verma said on Saturday.

He said the leopard was roaming in enclosure number six.

At present, cheetahs have not been released in this enclosure, sources said.

The eight cheetahs were flown to MP from Namibia on September 17 under an ambitious initiative to reintroduce the fastest animal in the country.

They were released into the KNP quarantine zone by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Earlier this month, three cheetahs – Obaan, Alton, and Freddie - were shifted from the quarantine area to the acclimatisation enclosure, according to officials.

Obaan was released into the larger enclosure, spread over an area of five square kilometres, on November 18 while Elton and Freddie were moved to the acclimatisation enclosure on November 5, an official had said.

The other five cheetahs would also be shifted to the large enclosure this month, officials said.

The eight cheetahs, including five females and three males in the 30-66 month age group, were housed in six 'bomas' (enclosures) after their arrival.

The last cheetah died in India in Koriya district in present-day Chhattisgarh in 1947, and the species was declared extinct from the country in 1952.
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United States Ovie11 Offline
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Madhya Pradesh: Two more cheetahs released to larger enclosures

BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh Forest department released two more cheetahs to larger enclosures successfully on Sunday. 

Officials informed that Tbilisi
 and Asha were released into 
Boma No 6 and 7 respectively between 3pm to 5pm as stage-II of their familiarization with the new habitat. 

Senior officials including Amit Mallik from NTCA, Y V Jhala from WII-Dehradun, chief wildlife warden of MP J S Chauhan and DFO (Kuno) P K Verma were present to monitor the proceedings.

Under stage-2 of their acclimatisation plan, brothers Elton and Freddie were first to be released on November 6 into the larger Boma-4 from their quarantine pen, where they had been held and fed since arriving on September 17. 

Almost 12 days after cheetah rockstars, the third male cheetah named Oban was released on November 18. Oban has been shifted to Boma-8 after approval from the Cheetah Special Task Force. 

Oban is the wild-born grandson of a cheetah rehabilitated by CCF at Erindi Private Game Reserve in Namibia. As a second-generation cheetah born in the wild, Oban is an excellent hunter, and Oban has very good chances of adapting to life in India.

The shifting of the three other cheetahs, however, depends on the approval of the task force. 

Officers are at ease since camera traps revealed a sixth leopard moving out of the enclosure. It was the capture of this female leopard that delayed the state-2, said sources. Teams had been trying to trap the leopard with snares and release her outside the enclosure for long.
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United States Ovie11 Offline
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All eight cheetahs moved out of quarantine at Kuno National Park

The Kuno National Park management, on November 28, released three female cheetahs into an enclosure, marking the end of the quarantine period of all eight cheetahs brought to India from Namibia on September 17. This is a crucial and final step before the big cats are finally released into the wild in India.

Kuno divisional forest officer (DFO) Prakash Verma told INDIA TODAY that the last of the three female cheetahs—named Savannah, Sasha and Siyaya—were released into an enclosure outside their quarantine enclosure. Two other female cheetahs—Asha and Tbilisi—were released from quarantine on November 27. While Savannah, Sasha and Siyaya are in one enclosure, Asha and Tbilisi have been kept in two separate enclosures.

A total of eight cheetahs—five females and three males—were translocated from Namibia to Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park as part of a cheetah reintroduction plan. All eight specimens were kept in quarantine, and as per the plan are to be released in game-stocked enclosures for acclimatisation, where they are expected to kill for food. From the game-stocked enclosure, the cheetahs would be released in the wild.

The first to be moved out of quarantine were two males, siblings Elton and Freddie. They were moved out on November 5 while Obaan, the third male in the group, was released on November 18.

While Elton, Freddie and Obaan have settled down well and have been hunting regularly, all eyes are on the five female wild cats for them to make a kill. A successful hunt marks the settling down of the animal and is an important milestone in the introduction process.

The decision to release the cheetahs from quarantine was taken in consultation with the Cheetah Task Force, constituted for monitoring the introduction process. The next crucial decision would be to release the cheetahs in the wild, which is likely to be taken after consultations between the task force and experts from South Africa and Namibia.
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