Two helicopters carrying eight cheetahs reached Palpur near Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh on Saturday, following their arrival in Gwalior from Namibia in a special plane as part of the programme to reintroduce the feline in India seven decades after it was declared extinct in the country.
A modified Boeing aircraft, which took off from the African country Friday night, carried the cheetahs in special wooden crates during the around 10-hour journey.
The plane landed at the Gwalior airbase shortly before 8.00 a.m., an official said.
The animals were later taken to Palpur near the KNP in Sheopur district, 165 km from Gwalior, in two helicopters. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is celebrating his birthday, will release three of the cheetahs in quarantine enclosures of the park at 10.45 a.m.
To be released in an enclosure
The cheetahs remained without food during the journey and will be given something to eat once they are released in the enclosures, an official said.
A dais has been set up in the Park under which special cages carrying cheetahs will be kept and Mr. Modi will release three of them in an enclosure by operating a lever.
After that, other dignitaries will release the remaining cheetahs in other enclosures, he said.
The cheetahs were brought in a special flight of Terra Avia, an airline based at Chisinau, Moldova in Europe that operates chartered passenger and cargo flights.
The Park is situated on the northern side of Vidhyachal mountains and is spread across 344 sq km.
Officials battled heavy rain, inclement weather and some blocked roads to complete the preparations for Mr. Modi’s programme to release the big cats in their new home in Kuno.
Two days before Mr. Modi’s arrival, heavy rain lashed the Gwalior-Chambal region of Madhya Pradesh.