Prime Minister Narendra Modi poses after opening the quarantine enclosure's door to release the cheetahs at Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh. (Via PM's Office)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an address to the nation following the release of cheetahs into quarantine enclosures in Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh Saturday, appealed for patience from the public before visiting cheetahs. PM Modi added that though India declared cheetahs extinct in 1952, it is unfortunate that no constructive efforts were made to reintroduce them for decades.
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Eight cheetahs had landed in Gwalior from Namibia’s capital Windhoek at around 8 am on September 17, which was also PM Modi’s 72nd birthday. Referring to the cheetahs as ‘India’s guests’, he said that India will try its best to follow international guidelines in nurturing them. He thanked the government of Namibia for its assistance in the project.
Villagers in surrounding areas of Madhya Pradesh’s Sheopur district have a variety of concerns including the fear of land acquisition and the fear of the big cat itself. Dharmendra Kumar Ojha, who runs a clothes shop, apprehended that cheetahs may enter the villages. Kailash, a labourer and resident of village Tiktoli, two km from the KNP’s entry gate, was nervous about the future. “I don’t know about benefits, but I am afraid because the cheetah has come here. Where will we go?” he wondered.
Flight with 8 cheetahs, crew left Namibia's capital last night, lands at Gwalior earlier today.
On Friday (September 16), a modified passenger B-747 Jumbo Jet will take off from Hosea Kutako International Airport in Windhoek, Namibia, for Gwalior. On board will be eight Namibian wild cheetahs, five females and three males, the founders of a new population in Kuno National Park, Madhya Pradesh.
The cheetahs will fly overnight to travel during the coolest hours of the day. Landing in Jaipur in the morning, they will be transferred by helicopter to Kuno, where they will be released in specially erected enclosures by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday (September 17).
The cheetah facilities have been developed, staff has been trained, and leopards larking in the enclosures have been moved away. Yet, everyone involved will keep their fingers crossed for the success of the first ever transcontinental mission to introduce African cheetahs in the wild.
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