Farmers eagerly await the arrival of the cheetahs

Madhya Pradesh Minister of Forestry, Kunwar Vijay Shah, is on a study trip to South Africa with some senior forestry officials. Sources said the minister’s visit is linked to the much-talked-about relocation of cheetahs from South Africa to Kuno Palpur Sanctuary located in Shivpuri district of Madhya Pradesh.

Earlier, Madhya Pradesh wildlife officials had assumed the first batch of cheetahs would reach Bhopal by August 15. However, that could not happen. It is not just wildlife lovers, but farmers in the Gwalior-Chambal division who eagerly await the arrival of cheetahs from Africa.

The world’s first intercontinental translocation of the fastest-moving animal – from Namibia and South Africa to Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh – whose definitive dates are far from fixed, will not only a boost to wildlife tourism, but also promises to bring smiles to the faces of farmers in three districts.

Reliable sources have said that farmers in the three districts of Gwalior-Chambal region including Shivpuri, Ashok Nagar and Guna may find in cheetahs the solution to their long-standing problem of the Indian Blackbuck antelope damaging their crops. every season. As part of efforts to build a wide and suitable prey base for cheetahs before their arrival in Kuno National Park, the state forest department is working on a project to translocate blackbucks from the districts of Shivpuri, Ashok Nagar and Guna towards the new cheetah house.

“The rains have temporarily hampered the progress of the blackbuck translocation project, but it will gain momentum once the monsoon subsides. We hope to continue the field exercise by October, which will see the blackbucks be transferred through the Boma technique from Shivpuri, Ashok Nagar and Guna districts to Kuno National Park and other ideal jungles with suitable habitat for the Indian antelope,” said CS Ninama, Chief Conservator of Forests of Madhav National Park.

Ninama said the Kuno National Park team is already working on developing a prey base for cheetahs, but with blackbucks seen as the most ideal prey for cheetahs, approval was given for the project. translocation of blackbucks from the three districts of Gwalior-Chambal region, where they are a major problem for farmers.

With grasslands being their preferred habitat, blackbucks are permanent residents of farmers’ agricultural fields and often damage crops in the initial stages of cultivation by crushing the budding crop. Farmers in the three districts, although the fallow deer were a major problem for their first harvests, did not harm them, but raised the issue with the authorities.

“By relocating the blackbucks to Kuno National Park and other ideal habitats, we will not only help the farmers’ cause, but also prevent the Indian antelope from being attacked by wild canids, especially during the breeding season. monsoon in muddy agricultural fields. Moreover, they will be the ideal complement to the already existing prey base for cheetahs in Kuno. We will complete the black fallow deer population estimation exercise in the three districts in the next few weeks, followed by studying their behavioral and habitat-related aspects, based on what appropriate changes will be made to their future habitat prior to their translocation. We hope to begin the translocation exercise by the end of October.” , added Ninama.

Meanwhile, Forestry Minister Kunwar Vijay Shah recently said cheetahs from Namibia and South Africa will not arrive in MP until November. Some pending issues, including the removal of three leopards from the 500-hectare enclosure prepared for the cheetahs in Kuno, a memorandum of understanding with the South African government and other related issues need to be resolved before bringing in the cheetahs. 20 cheetahs from Namibia and South Africa.

Cheetahs went extinct in India in the 1950s. The plan for their reintroduction has been in the works for decades. The central government had initially approached Iran, where the Asiatic cheetah, the same subspecies that disappeared in India, exists, and was even keen to clone the species. But, upon Iran’s refusal to help India, due to the low numbers of the species there, the central government turned to the African subspecies.

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