This refers to the news item on the relocation of African cheetahs to India (April 27). The idea is naive and will not be productive. The grassland habitat which is necessary for the cheetah has vastly reduced in India. Grassland species are highly endangered. The cheetah's prey base in India is limited to the blackbuck, while in Africa there are several species of antelopes and deer in high densities inhabiting the vast open grasslands. Besides, the cheetah is a cattle lifter and will come into conflict with humans.
Perhaps this is a ploy by conservationists to use the cheetah as the flagship species for grassland conservation instead of the Great Indian Bustard, which has failed its role. Union Minister Jairam Ramesh should take these factors into consideration before implementing the idea.
J. Patrick David,
Correction and Clarification
The letter incorrectly says that there are deer species in the African grasslands. (The Red Deer (Cervus elaphus), the only species of deer to inhabit Africa, is found in the the Atlas Mountains region between Morocco and Tunisia in northwestern Africa. Fallow deer formerly occurred in the coastal region of northern Africa from Morocco to Tunisia, but are extinct there now. It is believed they were introduced from Europe by either the Phoenicians or the Romans rather than being native to Africa.)