Switching boerewors for chowdry curry – royal reception for cheetahs in India
The eight Namibian wild cheetahs who are destined to start a new population in India, are currently being prepared for their historic journey later this week. The animals will be accompanied by staff members of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) to monitor their condition during the trip to ensure they all arrive in good health at their new home.
CCF said Namibia with its large population of wild cheetah, is donating the first eight individuals as part of a larger, multi-year agreement to help conserve the species through India’s Project Cheetah.
Three adult male and five adult female cheetahs will make the 11-hour, transcontinental journey to India’s Kuno National Park on 16 and 17 September. Each has been vaccinated, fitted with a satellite collar, and kept in isolation at the CCF Centre in Otjiwarongo.
The mission to move the cheetahs starts this Friday, 16 September with the transfer of the cats from the CCF Centre to Hosea Kutako International Airport near Windhoek. After a brief ceremony to acknowledge Namibia’s donation and the significance of the mission, the cheetahs will be loaded onto a private B747 aeroplane and flown overnight to India. On the last leg of their journey, they will be transferred by helicopter to Kuno National Park where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will welcome them to their new sanctuary.
“Conservation of species requires global cooperation. For more than 12 years, I have consulted with the government of India and their scientists to bring cheetahs back to the landscape, and now it is happening! As a conservationist, I am thrilled, and as CCF’s leader, I am exceptionally proud of the work of our CCF reintroduction team. Without research and dedication to cheetah conservation, this project could not take place”, said Dr Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of CCF. “We are also very fortunate to have supportive colleagues within Namibia’s Erinidi Private Game Reserve and the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism”.
“We are delighted to be working closely with the Government of Namibia to bring cheetahs back to India, and we thank them for their support,” said the Indian High Commissioner, HE Prashant Agrawal.
Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) Executive Director, Dr Laurie Marker (left), and the fund’s cheetah specialist team preparing one of the cheetahs for translocation at the CCF Centre in Otjiwarongo. The eight wild cheetahs will make the trip to India on 16 and 17 September. (Photograph by the Cheetah Conservation Fund)