Modi releases wild cheetahs - which had become extinct from India - in Kuno National Park in MP
New Delhi, September 17, 2022
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today released wild cheetahs, which had become extinct in India, in the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh.
The cheetahs -- brought from Namibia -- are being introduced in India under Project Cheetah, the world's first inter-continental large wild carnivore translocation project.
The Prime Minister released cheetahs at two release points in Kuno National Park. He also interacted with "Cheetah Mitras", members of the Cheetah Rehabilitation Management Group and students at the venue. He also addressed the nation on the occasion.
In his address to the nation, the Prime Minister spoke about the opportunities that humanity got to rectify the past and build a new future.
"We have one such moment in front of us today. Decades ago, the age-old link of biodiversity that was broken and became extinct, today we have a chance to restore it," he said. “Today the cheetah has returned to the soil of India.”
He made a special mention of Namibia and its government with whose cooperation the cheetahs had returned to Indian soil after decades.
“I am sure, these cheetahs will not only make us aware of our responsibilities towards nature but will also make us aware of our human values and traditions,” he remarked. “When we are away from our roots, we tend to lose a lot.”
He said that, in the last centuries, the exploitation of nature was considered to be a symbol of power and modernity. “In 1947, when only the last three cheetahs were left in the country, they too were hunted mercilessly and irresponsibly in the Sal forests,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that, even though cheetahs had become extinct from India in 1952, no meaningful effort was made to rehabilitate them for the past seven decades.
Drawing everyone’s attention to the years of hard work that went behind making this rehabilitation successful, the Prime Minister said that the utmost energy was deployed for an area that is not given too much political importance. He said that a detailed Cheetah Action Plan was prepared while the country's talented scientists conducted extensive research, working closely with South African and Namibian experts.
He said scientific surveys were conducted across the country to locate the most suitable area for cheetahs, and then Kuno National Park was chosen.
Modi said that when nature and the environment are protected, the country's future becomes secure and the avenues for growth and prosperity open up. He said that when the cheetahs sprint in Kuno National Park, the grassland eco-system will be restored and it will also lead to an increase in biodiversity.
He said employment opportunities would increase as a result of the growing eco-tourism in the area, thereby opening up new possibilities for development.
The Prime Minister urged people to be patient and wait for a few months to witness the cheetahs released in the Kuno National Park. “Today these cheetahs have come as guests, and are unaware of this area. For these cheetahs to be able to make Kuno National Park their home, we have to give them a few months' time," he said.
He stressed that international guidelines are being followed and India is trying its best to settle these cheetahs. “We must not allow our efforts to fail,” he said.
“For India, nature and environment, its animals and birds, are not just about sustainability and security but the basis of our sensibility and spirituality. We are taught to care about even the smallest creatures living around us. Our traditions are such that if the life of a living being goes away without any reason, then we are filled with guilt. Then how can we accept that the existence of an entire species is lost because of us?” he added.
The Prime Minister added that today cheetahs are found in some countries of Africa, and in Iran, however, India's name was removed from that list long ago. “Children will not have to go through this irony in the years to come. I am sure, they will be able to see the cheetah running in their own country, in Kuno National Park. Today a big void in our forest and life is being filled through the cheetah," he said.
He said that India is a living and breathing example that economic progress of the country can take place along with protecting the environment. “Today, on the one hand, we are included in the fastest growing economies of the world, at the same time the forest areas of the country are also expanding rapidly," he said.
The Prime Minister said that, since his government came into office in 2014, about 250 new protected areas have been added in the country. There has also been a big increase in the number of Asiatic lions and Gujarat has emerged as a dominating sphere of Asiatic lions in the country. “Decades of hard work, research-based policies and public participation have a big role behind this," he said.
He said India had achieved the target of doubling the number of tigers ahead of time. He recalled that at one time the existence of one-horned rhinoceros was in danger in Assam, but today their number has also gone up. The number of elephants has also increased to more than 30 thousand in the last few years.
He also spoke about the work done to preserve the flora and fauna of India in the expansion of wetlands. He said that the life and needs of crores of people all over the world are dependent on wetland ecology.
“Today 75 wetlands in the country have been declared as Ramsar sites, of which 26 sites have been added in the last 4 years," he said. “The effect of these efforts of the country will be visible for centuries to come, and will pave new paths for progress.”
Madhya Pradesh Governor Mangubhai Patel, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and Union Ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Bhupender Yadav, Jyotiraditya M Scindia and Ashwini Chobey were among those present on the occasion.