The flight bringing 12 cheetahs from South Africa to India is scheduled to arrive on Saturday morning at the Gwalior Airport, from there they will be taken to their new home, 'The Kuno National Park' in the state, officials said.
"We are happy to announce that at 8.30 PM (Local South African Time), the 12 cheetahs took off from Johannesburg airport in a C-17 Globemaster aircraft for the Gwalior airport. The cheetahs will land at the Gwalior airport at around 10 am IST on Saturday, February 18," said SP Yadav, the Cheetah Project Chief, at Kuno National Park.
The cheetahs are being brought to India as part of the Cheetah Reintroduction project on the basis of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the South African and the Indian governments.
The MoU facilitates cooperation between the two countries to establish a viable and secure cheetah population in India; promotes conservation and ensures that expertise is shared and exchanged, and capacity is built, to promote cheetah conservation. This includes human-wildlife conflict resolution, capture and translocation of wildlife and community participation in conservation in the two countries.
Speaking on monitoring the health of the cheetahs during the flight he said, "There are four veterinary doctors and Cheetah experts in the flight from South Africa apart from Indian officials. They will continuously monitor the cheetahs' health during their journey to India."
"From the airport, they will be transported to Kuno National park in helicopters of the Indian Air Force and will be kept in 10 quarantine enclosures," he added.
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"Union Ministers Bhupendra Yadav and Narendra Tomar will be present during the release of the Cheetahs in the enclosures. Apart from them, Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan may also be present on the occasion," he added.
The cheetah was declared extinct in India in 1952.
Restoring cheetah populations is considered by India to have vital and far-reaching conservation consequences, which would aim to achieve a number of ecological objectives, including re-establishing the function role of cheetahs within their historical range in India and improving and enhancing the livelihood options and economies of the local communities.
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