The special chartered cargo flight, that is carrying eight cheetahs from Africa’s Namibia, landed at the Indian Air Force Station in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh on Saturday morning.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release the cheetahs into Kuno National Park, on his birthday.
The eight cheetahs were brought in a cargo aircraft as part of an inter-continental cheetah translocation project.
According to the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), an international not-for-profit organisation headquartered in Namibia and dedicated to saving the cheetah in the wild, the five female cheetahs are aged between two years and five years and the male cheetahs are aged between 4.5 years and 5.5 years.
MP Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) JS Chauhan had earlier said that as a precautionary measure an animal should have an empty stomach at the time of commencing journey. Food will be provided to the felines in the KNP where they will reach after an hour-long journey in a helicopter in Jaipur, which is about 400 km from the national park.
PM Modi will release three of these cheetahs into the park’s quarantine enclosure as part of the cheetah reintroduction programme, about seven decades after the animal became extinct in India in 1952.
The felines will be first kept at small enclosures for a month and then in bigger ones for a couple of months so that they can acclimatize and get familiarise with the surroundings.
The last cheetah in the country had died in 1947 in Korea district in present-day Chhattisgarh and in 1952 the species was declared extinct from India. The ‘African Cheetah Introduction Project’ was conceived in 2009. The big cats were earlier planned to be brought last November, but due to COVID-19 pandemic, the plan suffered a setback.