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More cheetahs to be flown to India from South Africa: Report

An initial batch of 12 cheetahs will be brought in February

cheetah-file Representational image

Months after India received eight cheetahs from Namibia, more wildcats will be flown to the country from South Africa this year. A pact has been signed by both countries in this regard.

The agreement is to introduce dozens of African cheetahs to India over the next decade, Reuters quoted South Africa's environmental department on Thursday. "An initial batch of 12 cheetahs are scheduled to be flown from South Africa to India in February 2023," the department said in a statement.

"The big cats will join those introduced from Namibia. The plan is to translocate a further 12 annually for the next eight to 10 years," the department added.

Earlier, sources with the Ministry of Union Environment Ministry had told PTI that discussions with South African authorities to translocate 12 cheetahs to Kuno are at an advanced stage. Though the initial plan was to bring the animals by late January, the plan got delayed.

In September, cheetahs were reintroduced to India after 70 years when eight cats were flown in from Namibia. They were released to Kuno National Park with much fanfare. This was part of the 'Action Plan for Reintroduction of Cheetah in India' prepared by the Wildlife Institute of India. Authorities spent Rs. 38.70 crores under the ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger for the same. 

The government of India has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of the Republic of Namibia on 'Wildlife Conservation and Sustainable Biodiversity Utilization' in this regard last year.

Kidney infection for Shasha

One of the eight cheetahs from Namibia, meanwhile, has been detected with a hepatorenal (associated with the kidneys and liver) infection. The animal, four-year-old Sasha, was flown in from Namibia in September.

According to an official, the cheetah's condition has improved and is being treated by three veterinarians who are in constant touch with cheetah experts from Namibia and South Africa. "Shasha has some liver and kidney problems," MP Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) JS Chauhan told PTI over phone.

"Her problem came to light on Monday. Dr Atul Gupta, veterinarian from Bhopal based Van Vihar National Park has been rushed to Kuno National Park. She is suffering from a hepatorenal infection, not a disease. She has been quarantined and is being treated," Chauhan added.

Shasha, born on April 1, 2018, had underwent a health screening in August last year and vaccinated before being flown here a month later. It weighed 32 kilograms are the time and was fine.

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