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India. Cheetahs became extinct there 70 years ago. A new generation has just been born

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Four cheetahs were born in India’s Kuno National Park. This is an important moment in the history of nature conservation in this country – animals died out there 70 years ago. The parents of the young came to the country from Namibia. The WWF estimates that fewer than 7,000 of the species may currently be living in the wild due to poaching and habitat loss.

Siyaya, a three-year-old cheetah who came to India’s Kuno National Park from Namibia, gave birth to four cubs last weekend. They are the first cheetah cubs born in the country outside of a zoo in over 70 years.

“A momentous event”

JS Chouhan, director of the Madhya Pradesh Forest Service, said the cubs are safe and in a special enclosure. Although they were captured on video, the sex of the babies has not yet been determined.

The birth of cheetahs is the result of a government reintroduction program of the species in India’s national parks. In 2022 and 2023, India took over a dozen individuals from Namibia and South Africa requiring rehabilitation. The animals were quarantined and placed in an acclimatization pen before being transferred to the national park. The plan calls for 50 cats to be released into the wild over the next five years.

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India’s environment minister, Bhupender Yadav, told the media that the birth of the cheetahs was “a momentous event in our history of wildlife conservation”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also welcomed the news from Kuno National Park, calling it “great news”.

Young cheetah cubs from IndiaReuters/Bhupender Yadav Twitter/Doordarshan/ANI

A revival of the genre

Cheetahs were declared extinct in India in 1952. They are believed to be the only “large, carnivorous animals” to have disappeared from the face of this country. This is blamed on the deforestation carried out under British colonial rule. While sites for settlements and plantations have been created, “big cat” habitats have been destroyed.

Cheetahs are considered less dangerous than tigers and relatively easy to tame. In the past, they often accompanied the Indian rich, e.g. in hunting.

According to data from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), today they can be found in southern and eastern Africa – especially in Namibia, Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania. However, their population has been reduced due to habitat loss and poaching. The WWF estimates that there are fewer than 7,000 cheetahs in the wild today.

Young cheetah cubs from IndiaReuters/Bhupender Yadav Twitter/Doordarshan/ANI

Cheetahs became extinct in India 70 years agoReuters/Bhupender Yadav Twitter/Doordarshan/ANI

Main photo source: Reuters/Bhupender Yadav Twitter/Doordarshan/ANI

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