Cheetah experts from across the globe are meeting in Gajner in Rajasthan from Wednesday to explore whether the world’s fastest land animal could be re-introduced in India, more than 60 years after it was literally wiped out from this country.
The well-known cheetah experts Stephen O’Brien and Laurie Marker are among some 30 scientists participating in the two-day conference inaugurated by the Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh.
The sources said countries like Namibia in Africa may be requested to send cheetahs to India. The conference will deliberate on a range of issues such as biological, ecological and security factors, which will be crucial for the survival of cheetah in India, an official said requesting anonymity.
According to sources, a senior scientist of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) had surveyed three to four places in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh for cheetah re-introduction. The details will be presented at the conference.
The Gajner forest near Bikaner, some 450 km from Delhi, is reportedly one of the sites under consideration.
An official said that the Rajasthan forest department would also make a presentation on whether the state has habitat suitable for cheetahs.
Experts say it will be relatively easier to get cheetahs from Africa, where there are many of them. There had been an earlier proposal to import them from Iran due to the shorter distance, but there are not many cheetahs left in the wild in Iran.
In the past, India’s last cheetah in the wild was said to have been shot in the Reva area of Madhya Pradesh in the 1940s.
The cheetah, the smallest of the big cats, can run faster than any other animal on land, more than 100 km per hour.