Cheetahs to travel without food from Namibia to India: Official
Cheetahs arriving from Namibia to Madhya Pradesh's Kuno-Palpur National Park later this week will have to spend their entire air transit period empty stomach, a senior forest department official said on Tuesday.
Eight cheetahs will be brought to Jaipur in Rajasthan from Namibia in Africa on September 17 in a cargo aircraft as part of an inter-continental translocation project and flown to the Kuno-Palpur National Park (KPNP) in Sheopur district the same day.
After taking off from Namibia, food to the felines will be given in KPNP, where they will reach after an hour-long journey in helicopter from Jaipur, some 400km from the national park, the official said.
As a precaution, it is mandated that an animal should have an empty stomach at the time of commencing journey, MP Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) JS Chauhan told PTI.
He said no food will be given to the cheetahs during their journey from Namibia to Jaipur and then further to the national park.
Such a precaution is needed as long journey may create nausea-like feelings in animals leading to other complications, Chauhan said.
Asked about travel time between Namibia and Jaipur, the forest officer said he has no idea in this regard, but the cargo plane bringing the big cats is scheduled to land at the airport in the Rajasthan capital between 6 am to 7 am on September 17.
However, an online travel agency's website showed that one-side journey of a passenger airplane from Windhoek (Namibia's capital) to New Delhi takes 16 hours 40 minutes with a four-hour stop mid-way.
Chouhan said after shifting the cheetahs from the cargo plane to helicopter and completing other formalities, the animals will reach helipads in Kuno-Palpur after an hour-long travel.
Officials of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change were looking after arrangements related to the inter-continental cheetah translocation project and were in touch with Namibian authorities, he said.
The MP's forest officer said on arrival the cheetahs will be first kept in small enclosures for a month and then in bigger ones for a couple of months for acclimatization and familiarisation with surroundings.
Later, they will be released in the wild, he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release three of these cheetahs into the park's quarantine enclosures on September 17, his birthday, as part of the cheetah reintroduction programme, seven decades after the animal became extinct in India.
''We have set up six small quarantine enclosures as per the legal mandate required during the shifting of animals from one continent to another,'' an official said earlier.
He had said according to the protocol, the animals need to be quarantined for a month each before and after shifting from one continent to another.
The last cheetah died in the country in 1947 in Korea district in present-day Chhattisgarh and the species was declared extinct from India in 1952.
The 'African Cheetah Introduction Project in India' was conceived in 2009.
A plan to introduce the big cat in the KPNP by November last year had suffered a setback due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.
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