Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Forest dept to scour land for cheetahs.

The state Forest Department will form a group that will work on identifying land in Gujarat for the re-introduction of the cheetah, extinct in India since 1947. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is looking to source cheetahs from Africa.
S K Nanda, Principal Secretary, state Forest Department, said the Centre had sent a request to identify a site in Gujarat for the re-introduction of cheetahs.
“We will go into the details soon; a team will be formed to look at the possible sites, and a report will be submitted,” he said.
India had attempted to re-introduce the world’s fastest animal some two years ago, with plans to source it from Iran. But the West Asian country had only a small population of about 60 left, and expressed its inability to spare the 16 or 18 cheetahs India was expecting.
Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said at a recent event in New Delhi that South Africa, Namibia and Tanzania were being looked at as places from where cheetahs could be sourced.

In a report last year, the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India and Wildlife Trust of India said the Banni Grasslands and Kutch Wildlife Sanctuary could be potential sites, but has a very low prey base.
“But the area has potential and with restoration, livestock grazing management, and law enforcement, the area could bounce back and could potentially support over 50 cheetahs,” the report said.
Neighbouring Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the report added, had certain areas that could be potential areas for re-introduction of cheetahs

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