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Journalism of Courage

Catching up with the mega fauna in Africa on the translocation of the cheetahs

How do the animals in Africa feel about the cheetahs travelling to India? Down in Jungleland finds out

A new home in India for the Namibian cheetahs. (PTI Photo)

Now that the cheetahs have arrived and been released in Kuno, how have some of Africa’s other big mammals taken to the development? Down in Jungleland (DiJ) interviews a select few of Africa’s mega fauna and some of our own local fauna:

DiJ: So, what do you think about this ghar-wapsi of cheetahs to India? Are you relieved that there would be fewer cheetahs now in Africa to make a meal out of you?

Wildebeest: We think we should have been taken to India. We would have migrated in our millions all the year through from north to south and east to west uniting the country like nothing else: no bharat-jodo march could come even close. Actually cheetahs are scaredy-boobies, we often chase them.

Dij (turning to the impala): What do you think?

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Impala: We give cheetahs a run for their money here. I don’t know whether the blackbucks of India are quite capable of doing that. They may run fast but can they jink and dodge the way we do? None of the millennium-generation of blackbuck have ever known cheetahs, let alone been chased by them. As a gesture of international goodwill, we have WhatsApp-ed some of our blackbuck friends in Kuno and told them that all they need to do is not get caught in the first 30 seconds. After that the cheetahs are, as you would say, ‘bilkul phut!’

DiJ (to the lion): You and the cheetahs and leopards don’t really get along. You’ve been known to kill them and their cubs. The cheetah immigrants to India have been ensured safety from such predation. Your comments?

Lion (roaring): It’s a scandal. Your local lions (which still don’t have enough hair on their chests) were supposed to be moved to Kuno before the cheetahs, but stupid provincial pride has not enabled that. Now, before you know it, you’ll have underage cheetah hoodlum gangs without licenses racing around everywhere, breaking speed limits and bribing cops with offers for selfies or threatening them with ‘Do you know who my godfather is?’ And then your ministers will boast that this is all a part of the ‘Make in India’ program. Bah!


DiJ (to the leopard): What do you think?

Leopard: Heh-heh, you seriously believe you’ve got rid of all the local leopards in Kuno? Hah, you couldn’t keep us out of cities like Mumbai and not for want of trying. Do you think you can keep them out of Kuno? Our spotted Indian cousins are going to have such fun. Those cheetah pussycats are going to have total meltdowns very soon!

DiJ (turning to the hyena): You are known to steal cheetahs’ prey. You just stroll over and coolly make off with it once they have done all the hard work!


Hyena (giggling): Yeah, cool, isn’t it? We are first royally entertained by the chase, then when the cheetahs are, as our wildebeest friends mentioned, ‘bilkul phut’ — on the verge of cardiac arrest — we stroll over and serve ourselves. I’m sure there are enough jackals in Kuno who will continue with our great tradition. We’ve heard India has quite a population of jackals of different kinds.

DiJ (to the zebra): You must be relieved too. There’ll be fewer cheetahs here to chase you.

Zebra (snorting): Listen, my friend we’re very good at kicking ass! Want a demo?

DiJ (to the baboon): You have also been known to mob cheetahs. They must be so relieved that this won’t happen in Kuno.

Baboon: Our cousins, the macaques and langurs, are quite capable of fulfilling that function, as are your Bollywood heroes, firing at them from jeeps, and politicians wanting pictures with them…


DiJ (to the chital): There have been rumours that you are being taken from Rajasthan to Kuno as fodder for the cheetahs there. Your views on the subject?

Chital (nervously): It’s been officially denied but (whispers), who knows? Our Bishnoi friends have raised the matter. As a precaution, many of us – and our sambhar cousins – have gone into serious sprint training. (Brightening up) But maybe you can train cheetahs to go vegan. They are very amenable to training, and then, who knows, maybe some day leopards, lions, tigers and wolves can lie side by side with us! Anything is possible.


DiJ (to the blackbuck): You are considered to be the cheetah’s preferred prey. Your comments?

Blackbuck: Arre aane de (Let them come)! Seekh kebab bana denge unke (We’ll make seekh kebabs out of them)!


DiJ (to Asha, the first cheetah to be let loose in Kuno by the PM): So, how does it feel to be in India? You all were brought here and released bypassing many wildlife conventions and practices and were given preference over other endangered local wildlife. Doesn’t that make you feel very special and much loved?

Asha: Yeah, sure, but when are we going to see the Taj Mahal and do item numbers in Bollywood? When do we meet Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan and Sachin Tendulkar? Also, we could teach your cricket team a thing or two about running between the wickets…

First published on: 28-09-2022 at 12:03:00 pm
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