Breaking! Cheetah Project Steering Committee Formed to Oversee Cheetah Introduction in MP
New Delhi, 26th May 2023:
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has established the Cheetah Project Steering Committee to review, monitor, and provide guidance on the introduction of cheetahs to the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department and NTCA. This decision was made during a meeting chaired by the Director General of Forest & Special Secretary, with the Additional Chief Secretary of the Government of Madhya Pradesh. The committee supersedes the Cheetah Task Force, as per the decision taken on 22nd September 2022.
The committee comprises prominent members from various fields, including wildlife experts, conservationists, and social workers. Dr. Rajesh Gopal, Secretary General of the Global Tiger Forum in New Delhi, will serve as the Chairman. Other members include former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests & HoFF/CWLW, Shri R. N. Mehrotra; former Director of Wildlife Institute of India, Shri P. R. Sinha; former APCCF Wildlife, Dr. H. S. Negi; former faculty at WII, Dr. P. K. Malik; former Dean of Wildlife Institute of India, Shri G. S. Rawat; social worker and Founder of Vicharta Samuday Samarthan Manch (VSSM), Ms. Mittal Patel; Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) & Chief Wildlife Warden of Madhya Pradesh, and Prof. Qamar Qureshi, a scientist from the Wildlife Institute of India.
Additionally, a consulting panel of international cheetah experts has been established to provide advice as and when required. The panel includes renowned experts such as Prof. Adrian Tordiffe from the University of Pretoria, South Africa; Dr. Laurie Marker from Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia; Dr. Andrew John Fraser from Farm Olievenbosch, South Africa; and Mr. Vincent van dan Merwe, Manager of the Cheetah Metapopulation Project at The Metapopulation Initiative, South Africa.
The Steering Committee has been assigned several key responsibilities, including reviewing and monitoring the cheetah introduction project in Madhya Pradesh. They will also explore the possibility of opening the cheetah habitat for eco-tourism, suggesting appropriate regulations, and fostering community involvement in project activities.
The committee is set to operate for a duration of two years, conducting monthly meetings and field visits as required. It holds the authority to invite experts for consultations and seek advice from the panel of international cheetah experts based on specific needs. The NTCA, under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, will facilitate the committee's functioning.
The travel expenses for non-official members and other incidental costs will be covered by the NTCA in accordance with existing rules.
The formation of the Cheetah Project Steering Committee signifies a significant step towards the reintroduction of cheetahs in Madhya Pradesh, aiming to enhance biodiversity and promote sustainable wildlife conservation efforts in the region.
In a significant initiative by the Narendra Modi government, cheetahs were reintroduced in India. Eight Namibian cheetahs arrived in September 2022 and were released in Kuno National Park. Later, in February 2023, 12 South African cheetahs were also released. The current cheetah population in Kuno National Park is 18, including one cub undergoing treatment. Sadly, two cubs born to Namibian cheetah Jwala have also passed away, bringing the total number of newborn cubs lost to three.
*Note: This news item is based on the official press release issued by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) Delhi on 26th May 2023, at 12:35 PM.*