Project Cheetah formally began on Saturday, September 17, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi released three of the eight African cheetahs at the Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. The day also marks PM Modi’s 72nd birthday and he began his day with the release of the big cats on Saturday morning.
While India was home to the Asiatic cheetah for many years, dating back to the Mughal period and even before, the species was declared extinct in 1952. The last recorded Indian cheetahs were killed by Maharaja Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo of Koriya, Surguja, of present-day Chattisgarh, in 1947. Let’s take a look at how much money is set to be spent on the reintroduction of cheetahs in India’s jungles.
The first eight cheetahs of the project were flown to Gwalior, India on a Boeing 747. Following their arrival in India, the cheetahs were flown to Kuno National Park by a Chinook helicopter on Saturday.
The budget for Project Cheetah has been set at Rs 96 crore, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) officials revealed recently. Apart from the budget, Indian Oil has also put in an additional amount of Rs 50 crore. This means a total of Rs 146 crore will be available for the project coordinators for the reintroduction and conservation of cheetahs across the country, who are aiming to place almost 50 cheetahs in the next five years.
The Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary, where the first three cheetahs were released by PM Narendra Modi on September 17, were also stocked with the required facilities for the reintroduction and conservation of the big cats, the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) of Namibia revealed. Apart from it, the staff at the national park were provided training and larger predators who pose a threat to the cheetahs have been moved to other places.
A string of public awareness campaigns were undertaken in the local communities, with a mascot named “Chintu Cheetah”.