The Union Environment Ministry on Wednesday said the date for the re-introduction of cheetahs in the "historical ranges" of the country has not been decided yet and media reports about the big cats being stuck in transit are "completely unfounded".
The re-introduction of wild species, particularly the cheetah, is being undertaken as per the guidelines of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the processes like disease screening, quarantine of release candidates as well as transportation of live wild animals across continents requires careful planning and execution, the ministry said in a statement.
The IUCN works in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
Date not decided due to sensitivity of process
"The date for cheetah introduction/translocation has not been decided as yet. Seized of the sensitivity of the entire process, the ministry is taking all precautions to ensure success of the project.
"Upon arrival, the cheetahs will be kept under quarantine and observed before release. Reports in certain sections of the media that African cheetahs are still stuck in transit are completely unfounded," it said.
MoU with Namibia, South Africa
On July 20, India and Namibia signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the reintroduction of cheetahs, declared extinct in the country in 1952.
The process of signing an MoU with South Africa is under way.
The fastest land animal in the world will find a new home in the Kuno-Palpur National Park in Madhya Pradesh's Sheopur district.
The cheetah is the only large carnivore that got completely wiped out from India, mainly due to over-hunting and habitat loss. The last spotted feline died in 1948 in the Sal forests of Chhattisgarh's Koriya district.
Namibia has the world's largest population of cheetahs.