Cheetah Reintroduction in India
#GS III Environmental Conservation
- There are currently 20 cheetahs living in the Kuno National Park (KNP) in Madhya Pradesh, but there isn’t enough food for them all to survive. According to Yadvendradev Jhala, a wildlife biologist who was instrumental in India’s cheetah restoration programme, the Rajasthan government had offered to house some animals in the tiny but well-equipped Mukundra Tiger reserve, but “political considerations” prevented this from occurring.
What led India to decide to bring the cheetah back into existence?
- The biological goals include helping to conserve the cheetah species worldwide and restoring the cheetah’s ecosystem function role in representative parts of its previous habitat.
- With the reintroduction of the cheetah, India will be the only nation to have all five species of great cats, including the tiger, lion, leopard, snow leopard, and cheetah.
- Improving Options for a Living: By increasing money from ecotourism and related activities, cheetah reintroduction will improve living conditions for the inhabitants in and around the areas where the species is expected to be brought.
- Top predators are viewed as the food chain’s umbrella species because they have control over every level of the food chain, which aids in its maintenance.
- For raising funds to balance the food web and open forest habitats, the charismatic cheetah can act as a flagship and umbrella species.
- Climate Change Mitigation: India will be better able to trap carbon and support international efforts to prevent climate change by rebuilding ecosystems in cheetah protection zones.
What Factors Led to the India Cheetahs’ Loss?
- There is historical evidence of Indian cheetahs from before the Common Period. Cheetah catches are documented as far back as the 1550s.
- One of the main causes of extinction was the reduced levels of genetic variation brought on by a prior genetic bottleneck, which led to high infant mortality in the wild and a reduced capacity for reproduction in captivity.
- After a lengthy time of sport hunting, cheetahs (both male and female) are frequently and widely taken in the wild.
- In the 16th century, the Mughals and other Deccan kings began meticulously recording its interactions with people.
- Killings for reward: In 1871, the British made things worse for the animal by offering a reward for the extinction of the species.
- The latter phases of extinction took place under British colonial control.
- The last cheetahs were reportedly shot in India in 1947, and the species was subsequently declared extinct in 1952.
- What Problems Are Included in the Cheetah Translocation in India?
- The ability of a cheetah to hunt on its own in the wild after being housed in a cage and fed game is a crucial concern.
- For instance, Sundari the tigress was eventually imprisoned in Bhopal Zoo for the rest of her life following an unsuccessful attempt to relocate her to Satkosia in Odisha.
- Adaptability: Due to their small size and the climatic and ecological contrasts between their new environment and their native one, reintroduced species are more susceptible to the effects of drift, selection, and gene flow evolutionary processes.
- For movement, African cheetahs require large, open areas. Due to the fact that Indian parks are typically much smaller than those in Africa, there are fewer opportunities for such unrestricted wandering there.
- Male cheetahs mate when females pass through their small areas, which causes breeding problems, according to research conducted in Africa. On the other hand, female cheetahs go far and by themselves.
- There is no precedent to suggest that cheetahs, lions, tigers, and leopards could ever coexist peacefully as it has never happened anywhere.
- Similar concerns exist for Kuno due to studies showing that cheetahs have been killed by leopards in Africa as prey. At the core area of Kuno, where the cheetahs will be housed, there are about 50 leopards.
- worries about recovery Relocating a number of settlements will be necessary to effectively protect the cheetah habitat, which will undoubtedly have an effect on the locals and generate disruption and migration.
What Other Reintroduction Plans Are There That You Are Aware Of?
- The 2018 Bisalpur Rewilding Project Over 150 of the critically endangered Indian antelope were brought back as part of the effort, along with a wide range of other animals and plants from the Jodhpur region.
- Indian bison, or gaur: The relocation of 19 gaur in Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh was spearheaded by a safari company with roots in Africa.
- The gaur herd increased to roughly 70 animals in ten years.
- American bison: In the 1890s, there were only 750 American bison left in the wild because of obsessive hunting and slaughter for the fur trade.
- The population has increased to about 350,000 as a result of population management, reintroduction strategies, and conservation initiatives.
- White Wolves: Yellowstone’s reintroduction of grey wolves more than 21 years ago played a significant part in reversing the ecosystem’s deterioration there.
Source The Hindu