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Project Cheetah: A Year of Restoring India's Wildlife Legacy

Utkarsh Classes Last Updated 02-12-2023
Project Cheetah: A Year of Restoring India's Wildlife Legacy Environment 7 min read

Exactly one year ago, on 17th September 2022, an African Cheetah was reintroduced in India from Namibia, Africa, to Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh.

That day, they marked a history in the wildlife conservation arena in India, with the World's fastest land animal finally returning to India after almost 75 years of their local extinction. 

  • In the first-ever intercontinental wildlife translocation and decades after the extinction of their Asiatic counterparts in India, eight African cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus jubatus ) from Namibia translocated into Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. 
  • Subsequently, twelve cheetahs from South Africa were also translocated and released in Kuno National Park in February 2023. 
  • The challenging inter-continental, wild Cheetah translocation by air from Namibia and South Africa to India is the first ever such effort undertaken in the World to rectify the ecological wrong done in the past.
  • Normally, intercontinental long-distance cheetah translocations have an inherent risk of mortalities, however, 8 Cheetahs from Namibia and 12 Cheetahs from South Africa were successfully translocated to the Kuno National Park without any mortality.
  • Other alternative sites for cheetah introductions are being prepared at Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary and Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary. Quarantine and acclimatization enclosures are under construction at Gandhi Sagar WLS, and the site is expected to be ready by the year-end.  
  • After evaluation of the site, the next batch of Cheetah will be planned to be brought to Gandhi Sagar WLS. Conservation breeding of Cheetah Centre, Cheetah Research Centre, Interpretation Center, Cheetah Management Training Centre and Cheetah Safari are being planned.

Project Cheetah is implemented by the NTCA

National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) implements Project Cheetah. It has constituted a Project Steering Committee, which will review the progress of Project Cheetah and monitor the programme.

  • National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has been constituted under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. 
  • As per the Act, the authority consists of the Minister in charge of the Ministry of Environment and Forests ( as Chairperson), the Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment and Forests (as Vice-Chairperson), three members of Parliament, the Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests and other members.

Project Cheetah's objectives:  

Bringing the Cheetah back to India has very vital and far-reaching conservation consequences, and we aim to achieve the following ecological objectives:

  • Re-establish the functional role of the Cheetah in representative ecosystems within its historical range. Here, the Cheetah will serve as a flagship to save its prey base and other endangered species of the grassland and semi-arid ecosystems. 
  • Resources invested in these highly exploited and neglected systems will ensure better management and restore their ecosystem services for the country.
  • Contribute to the global effort to conserve the Cheetah as a species.
  • Cheetah's introduction will likely improve and enhance local communities' livelihood options and economies.

Asiatic Cheetah in India

Jawarhal Lal Nehru declared the World's fastest land animal extinct in India in 1952.

Due to their use for coursing, hunting, and habitat loss The Cheetahs were completely wiped out from the country.

The last three cheetahs were hunted by Maharaja Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo, King of Koriya (Chhattisgarh), in 1947. 

The Asiatic Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus) is critically endangered according to the IUCN Red List and is surviving in Iran. 

It once occurred in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan but was extirpated in these regions during the 20th century.

Difference between Asiatic and African Cheetah

  • The Asiatic Cheetah is slightly smaller and slender than the African Cheetah. The neck is much smaller and longer. Their legs are also slender, leading many to believe they could be much faster than their African Cheetahs.
  • On the other hand, African cheetahs have a slightly bigger build with sturdier legs and necks. Their heads are also bigger compared side by side with the Asiatic cheetahs. 
  • The Asiatic Cheetah has a buff to light fawn colour bordering on pale yellow skin, and it has more fur on the body, especially under the belly and the back of the neck. The African Cheetah has a light brown to golden brown fur colour that is thicker than the Asiatic ones.
  • Asian Cheetah status: IUCN Red List Critically Endangered
  • African Cheetah Status: IUCN Red List Vulnerable


Answer: Namibia and South Africa

Answer: Kuno National Park

Answer: Madhya Pradesh

Answer: National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)

Answer: Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary and Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary
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