The World’s Fastest Cat Is Returning To India.
If all goes well, eight cheetahs – five males and three females – will make the 8,405km (5,222 miles) journey from South Africa to their new home in a sprawling national park in India in November.
The world’s fastest land animal will make a comeback in India, more than half a century after it became extinct in the country.
“Finally we have the resources and the habitat to reintroduce the cat,” says Yadvendradev Jhala, dean of the Wildlife Institute of India, and one of the experts tasked with the effort.
This is the first time in the world, he says, when a large carnivore will be relocated from one continent to another for conservation.
With their black-spotted coats and teardrop marks, the cheetah is a sleek animal, racing across grasslands at speeds touching 70 miles (112km) an hour to capture prey. The cat is also a remarkably athletic animal, breaking, ducking, and diving as it goes for the kill.
The vast majority of the 7,000 cheetahs in the world are now found in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. The endangered cat was reportedly last sighted in India in 1967-68, but their numbers had vastly dwindled by 1900.
Three sites – a national park and two wildlife sanctuaries – in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have been identified for reintroducing the cheetah, Dr Jhala said.
The first eight cats will find their home in Kuno national park in Madhya Pradesh, which has ample prey like antelope and wild boars. Wildlife experts are also rooting for a tiger reserve in Rajasthan’s Mukundra hills as a promising habitat.