INDIA: On Tuesday, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Indian Oil Corporation united to form a pact and sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to authorize the transcontinental relocation of cheetahs from Africa to India. As per details inscribed in the MoU, the IOC would fund over Rs. 50.22 crores over four years of the project. The project now costs Rs 75 crore in total.
The Union Environment Ministry has issued a statement highlighting that the MoU is a continuation of the existing agreement on wildlife conservation and sustainable biodiversity exploitation that the governments of India and Namibia signed on July 20 to reallocate the cheetah to its former range in India.
The Indian Oil Corporation has signed this pact as part of a CSR or corporate social responsibility programme, which attempts to restore the cheetah in its natural habitat.
In the presence of Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav and Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, the MoU was signed between IOC Chairman SM Vaidya and NTCA Member Secretary and Additional Director General (Project Tiger), Dr S P Yadav.
The Ministry has also issued a statement on this issue, “Indian Oil is the first corporate which has come forward to support the ‘Project Cheetah’ under CSR, as the project has not only national importance but is also essential for balancing the ecosystem. Cheetah has a very special significance for the National ethic and ethos. Cheetah restoration will be part of a prototype for restoration of original cheetah habitats and their biodiversity, helping to stem the degradation and rapid loss of biodiversity.”
Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh has authorized a cheetah introduction project, building a 500-hectare predator-proof enclosure for accommodating the cat’s “soft release”. The process for relocation will be smooth: once the enclosure is secure and other security restrictions are set in place, a small number of people will be allowed in.
Studies suggest that the Asiatic Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus), a subspecies of the cheetah that went extinct in India, shares the same genes as the imported African Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus jubatus). It should be noted that the IOC has supported rhino conservation efforts and last year chose the Indian single-horned rhino as its official emblem.