Opinion DC Comment 18 Sep 2022 DC Edit | Cheetah re ...

DC Edit | Cheetah return: A good start

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Sep 19, 2022, 12:00 am IST
Updated Sep 19, 2022, 7:23 am IST
A cheetah after being released inside a special enclosure of the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022. (PTI Photo)
 A cheetah after being released inside a special enclosure of the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022. (PTI Photo)

Eight African cheetahs — the Usain Bolts and Florence Griffith-Joyners of the animal kingdom — are in the Kuno national park in Madhya Pradesh. These are not Asiatic cheetahs, which we lost through the sheer cruelty and callousness of man and the obsession with hunting that Indian royalty may have inherited during the British Raj.

The last recorded hunt was 75 years ago when the Indian cheetahs may have been wiped out though the animals were also known for having been kept like pets and seen accompanying the hunters on safaris.

The cheetahs return in a most powerful symbol of the state caring for ecology and fulfilling a nostalgic longing for the speedy species featured in Indian folklore with the big cats coexisting only to be cynically killed off in India. The cheetah, like the Asiatic lion and the Bengal tiger, represented a segment of the majesty and diversity of the Indian animal kingdom and it makes sense that they should return to live in the wild here. Hopefully, they will breed freely to make a success of an imaginative translocation across continents.

The credit and blame game that is running in the political sphere now is also part of the Indian scene. There is no denying that all right-thinking people would nurse the intention to save the world, or an endangered species. But the credit goes more to people who actually get down to doing it as in handling the logistics, like those in the Narendra Modi government did in making this project, with shades of romanticism mixed in it, possible by bringing the cheetah from Namibia.

It remains to be seen how successful the cheetah will be in adapting to the wild in India’s grass and scrub land and whether they will survive the eternal push of mankind into their territories, and asinine poachers who kill for no reason at all. But conservation efforts cannot stop at this glamorous experiment. The Great Indian Bustard is endangered. The vultures are dying out with the continued use of Diclofenac in livestock and the pangolin is being hunted for its assumed aphrodisiac properties. And these are just examples. There is hope in the return of the cheetah also bringing back reason in human beings.

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Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi




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