Supreme Court of India on Tuesday gave approval to the reintroduction of Cheetas in India from Africa on an experimental basis. In 2013, the Court had rejected the proposal of the Environment Ministry to import the animal saying that there was no scientific study to back the move.
However, on January 28, the court ruled that the world’s fastest mammal could be imported from Africa to see if it can adapt to the Indian environment. The court set up a three-member committee to guide the National Tiger Conservation Authority on the issue, a news agency reported.
Following the decision, India’s former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, who had initiated the move ten years ago, took to Twitter to express his happiness over the ruling. He wrote that ‘Cheetah’ derives from Sanskrit ‘Chitra’ and is the only mammal which was hunted to extinction in modern India. Historial reports show that the Asiatic Cheetahs were in abundance during the Mughal rule with evidence suggesting that Mughal Emperor Akhbar kept hundreds of cheetah as his hunting companions.
Delighted that Supreme Court has just given OK to reintroducing cheetah from Namibia. This was something I had initiated 10 years ago. Cheetah which derives from the Sanskrit 'chitra' (speckled) is the only mammal hunted to extinction in modern India.— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) January 28, 2020
The cheetah is considered vulnerable under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with a declining population of less than 7,000 found primarily in African savannas. A small Asiatic population is also found in Iran where it is critically endangered. Conservationists have been divided on the introduction of the foreign species into India. Some say it diverts time and resources from other endangered species in the country, while others believe it could aid the cheetah's long-term survival.