India and Namibia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Wednesday to reintroduce African cheetahs in India.
The MoU was signed by Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav and the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Namibia Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, in New Delhi, and also covers cooperation on wildlife conservation and sustainable biodiversity utilisation.
“The MoU aims to facilitate Cheetah conservation in both countries by way of exchange mof expertise, sharing of good practices in the field of wildlife conservation, use of technology and sustainable management of biodiversity,” Yadav said in a tweet.
According to the pact, India will also train Namibian candidates in wildlife management courses at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), the minister added.
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The Environment Ministry in collaboration with the WII and National Tiger Conservation Authority has identified Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh for the reintroduction of cheetah, where the first eight cheetahs are expected to be translocated from Africa.
The ministry also said that the first batch of cheetahs comprising four male and as many female cheetahs will arrive from Namibia in August.
While the current carrying capacity for Kuno National Park is a maximum of 21 cheetahs, once restored the larger landscape can hold about 36 cheetahs. The carrying capacity can be further enhanced by including the remaining part of the Kuno Wildlife Division (1,280 sq km) through prey restoration.
The Ministry will also launch extensive awareness campaigns among the local communities and villages, encouraging them to be stakeholders in the project.
Cheetah managers and biologists from Africa will train Indian conservationists and forest officers, the ministry added.
“The main goal of Cheetah reintroduction project in India is to establish viable cheetah metapopulation in India that allows the cheetah to perform its functional role as a top predator and provides space for the expansion of the cheetah within its historical range thereby contributing to its global conservation efforts,’’ said the Environment Ministry.
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