International Society For Endangered Cats

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Cheetah is Alien to Rajasthan, says expert

Concern among a section of conservationists over a move to “re-introduce” cheetahs in Rajasthan, India has been echoed by the former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, V.D. Sharma. “The cheetah is alien to Rajasthan, so why introduce it here? They are using the word ‘re-introduction’ but I would insist that this is going to be an introduction of cheetah in Rajasthan as it never existed here in the wild,” said Mr. Sharma, author and specialist on lesser cats, talking to The Hindu newspaper.

“Is there any ecological gap or void which needs to be filled through the introduction of the cheetah here?” he asked. “We are planning to introduce an alien animal spending several hundreds of crores of rupees. The major concern is that introduction of the cheetah is contemplated in basically tiger land. If there is money to spare, it should be for conserving the tiger habitats,” said Mr. Sharma who has had a long association with Rajasthan’s tiger habitats as Chief Wildlife Warden in the past.

Mr. Sharma said Rajasthan has a long documented record of hunting expeditions by the rulers of Jaipur, Bikaner, Dungarpur and others but there is no reference to cheetahs. “There is no record of shooting a cheetah anywhere in Rajasthan. The museums have no stuffed cheetah or preserved skin of this animal kept as trophies,” he added. Former Rajasthan States had cheetahs as captive animals procured from abroad. “It was introduced as a hunting animal. Some of the captive cheetahs might have escaped to the wild and got killed. We don’t hear about any cheetah population,” Mr. Sharma said.

Until the beginning of the 20th century, Rajasthan had vast stretches of grass-shrubland with black bucks and chinkaras, ideal for the presence of cheetah. Yet there were none. “It never went extinct here as it never existed,” Mr. Sharma said.

Project will now go to Madhya Pradesh

Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said he felt Rajasthan was the best site suited for re-introduction but the government there was not agreeing because of protests by the local people. He said he tried to explain that oil and gas exploration could be done even if the cheetah was introduced there and the area would not be declared a national park or sanctuary. Now Madhya Pradesh is going to be the first option, as the Chief Minister there has given a committment and was very keen on the project, he said.

Source: IUCN/SSC Cat News, Spring 2011

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2 responses to “Cheetah is Alien to Rajasthan, says expert

  1. cheetahs4ever January 8, 2012 at 8:06 am

    While I believe that cheetahs need to be placed in protected regions, some of which may not be a native territory of the cheetah, I am sorry to say that Rajasthan, India is at present a very poor choice. Issues supporting my opinion begin with the current state of overpopulation within India. Agricultural villages currently border on protected reserves. Humans fail to recognise the borders of these wild life reserves resulting in human/cat interactions which result in tragic consequences.

    Additionally, there no longer exists sufficient land to support the needs of Tigers living within these so-called protected areas, not to mention the Asiatic Lion which, of all “big” cats is native to India, & who’s current population in Asia is too close to extinction in the wild. At present, if resources within India are to be allocated towards the conservation of any wild cat, they must go towards the Asiatic Lion & the Tiger.

    If one were to look objectively at a country which would be far more practical as a place to introduce the Cheetah into the wild, it would be, in my opinion, Bhutan. There, the Cheetah benefit from the deep rooted practice of extraordinary tolerance for their non-human neighbours & the practice of ahimsa (Sanskrit meaning non-violence). Additionally, there is ample land available for the Cheetah to support their needs, & the issue of poaching is not as severe as it is in so many other countries, which sadly includes India.

    Before the Cheetah is introduced in any country, there are many such issues to take into consideration. If the Vedic culture were to return to India, & be practiced in the manner that it is meant to be, my opinion would be far different. This is not the case at this time. Therefore, I must take a stand against introducing any of our precious Cheetahs into Rajasthan, India.

  2. Pingback: Asian Lions & Cheetahs Reintroduced In The Same Place « International Society For Endangered Cats

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