After the central government revealed plans to bring more leopards from South Africa, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Varun Gandhi on Saturday said that India should focus on the conservation of its endangered species. “Importing cheetahs from Africa and leaving nine of them to die in an isolated environment is not just cruelty; This is sheer carelessness and indifference.
SP Yadav, head of ‘Project Cheetah’, has said in an interview with ‘PTI-Bhasha’ that the next group of cheetahs will be brought from South Africa and settled in Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. This sanctuary is likely to be ready to accommodate leopards by the end of the year.
Varun said, “Instead of increasing the suffering of these creatures, we should focus on conserving our endangered species and the animals that already exist.” This reckless exercise of introducing exotic animals must end immediately and we must instead give priority to the welfare of our native wildlife.”
Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi took a dig at the announcement of bringing more cheetahs, saying, “After the very successful project of bringing cheetahs from Namibia (9 have already died), now look at the cheetahs of South Africa.”
Cartoonist Satish Acharya urged the government to “spare the leopards”, a statement echoed by many X users. However, many people supported the move.
One user on ‘X’ wrote, “I fully support this.” People should stop getting carried away by emotions. India is doing a very difficult task, that is, the task of re-establishing cheetahs in the wild. All necessary efforts should be made for this.
‘Project Cheetah’, India’s ambitious initiative to rehabilitate cheetahs after their extinction in the country, will complete one year on Sunday. The initiative began on September 17 last year when Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a group of leopards brought from Namibia into an enclosure in Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh. Since then, the project has been closely monitored by conservationists and experts around the world.
20 cheetahs were brought to Kuno in two groups from Namibia and South Africa. The first group was brought in September last year and the second in February.
Since March, six of these adult cheetahs have died due to various reasons. In May, three of four cubs born to a female Namibian cheetah died due to extreme heat.