What happened to the plan to translocate lions in India | In Focus podcast

Ravi Chellam Speaks to us on the new Project Cheetah, the conservation of lions and how conservation projects of endangered species have progressed in India.

Updated - December 03, 2022 03:15 pm IST

Published - December 03, 2022 11:10 am IST

On the eve of World Wildlife Conservation Day, December 4 and so, perhaps an apt time to discuss one of the first animals most people think about in the context of our country: our lions. 

Speaking of big cats however, there’s another one now in the picture -- the eight African cheetahs that were brought in from Namibia to the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh in September to much excitement. 

Asiatic cheetahs that once roamed over large tracts of India, were declared extinct in our country in 1952 -- their capture over the centuries, hunting for sport, and their killing for bounties all contributed to their extinction. Their last surviving population is in Iran today. 

Project Cheetah under which the animals from Namibia were brought to India, aims, it says, to “re-establish the ecosystem function role of the cheetah in representative areas of its former range” and to restore open forests and savannah systems. 

As of the end of November, all eight cheetahs have been released from their quarantine zone into a larger enclosure within the national park, as per news reports.

But while the cheetahs establish themselves in their new homes, experts have voiced concerns both over the aims and advisability of bringing the cheetahs into India, and over the larger question of what happened to the original plan of housing our lions at the Kuno National Park. 

In 2013, the Supreme Court of India, in an order had stated that the protection of Asiatic lions was a top priority and that they must be provided with a second home - the lions were supposed to go to Kuno National Park where the cheetahs now are. Our lions are, at present, found only in the Gir region of Gujarat, and as such, possibly vulnerable to threats - there have been instances of disease outbreaks amongst them for example.

So what happened to the lion translocation plan? How will the cheetahs help with the ecology of our country? How have conservation projects of endangered species progressed in our country?

Guest: Ravi Chellam, wildlife biologist and conservation scientist who is currently CEO of Metastring Foundation, co-ordinator of the Biodiversity Collaborative and is closely involved with the development of the National Mission on Biodiversity and Human Well-Being

Host: Zubeda Hamid

Edited by Sharmada Venkatasubramanian.

Listen to more In Focus podcasts:

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.