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African experts to conduct surveys on translocating cheetahs to 2 sanctuaries in MP: Bhupender Yadav

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BHOPAL, Feb 27: A team of African and Namibian experts will soon visit the Gandhi Sagar and Nauradehi sanctuaries in Madhya Pradesh to conduct surveys for translocating cheetahs to these places, Union minister Bhupender Yadav has said.

The minister for environment, forest and climate change addressed a review meeting of the cheetah project at the Kuno National Park (KNP) in MP’s Sheopur district.

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Yadav said Kuno will be established as an international tourist destination in the coming five years and the economy of this region will grow to around Rs 1,000 crore, that too without industries.

“There are 21 cheetahs in the KNP at present and this area has great potential. Currently, eight cubs are roaming freely with the female cheetah in Kuno,” Yadav was quoted as saying in an official release.

He said a Cheetah Rehabilitation Centre has been started and it is also the area of biggest success in the world because cheetahs have been rehabilitated here (KNP).

“A total of 10 forest areas were selected under the cheetah project, and three of these centres, including KNP, are in Madhya Pradesh. Besides Kuno, there are Gandhi Sagar and Nauradehi sanctuaries. A team from Africa and Namibia will soon go to these two sanctuaries and cheetahs will be translocated to these places after conducting surveys,” he said.

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The minister said under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Big Cat Alliance has been formed in which 97 countries are working and cooperating to save big cats.

Five species of big cats are found in India and a pilot project is being undertaken to save them, he said.

Yadav further said the KNP region would be developed as a model of economic development.

“Along with the cheetah project, arrangements will be made at the KNP to conduct other activities. More than 40,000 tourists are likely to visit this place in the coming time. Local people will be imparted special training as cooks and forest guides,” he added.

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Later, addressing a gathering to distribute bicycles to Cheetah Mitras, Yadav said KNP was the first intercontinental translocation in the field of wildlife.

“Initially, there was a challenge as cheetahs had to adopt new surroundings, prey and weather. The progress of the cheetah project is advancing better than expected. We brought 20 cheetahs and we have lost some of them, but today 21 felines exist in Kuno,” he said.

The Union minister said the MP government is focusing on area-centric development, including infrastructure, public utilities, skill development among local people and increasing occupation related to eco-tourism.

The number of tourists visiting the KNP has gone up from 2,000 in the year 2023 to 8,000 now, he said.

“In neighbouring Sawai Madhopur sanctuary, 2 lakh tourists come and such possibilities exist for Kuno also,” he added.

Earlier, speaking at the review meeting, chief minister Mohan Yadav said Madhya Pradesh will be developed as a hub of eco-tourism and about 2 lakh people will get jobs in Kuno alone.

At the chief minister’s request, Bhupender Yadav said an elephant conservation project will be launched in MP.

Under Project Elephant, a central team will visit MP and conduct a study based on experiences of Assam and Kerala, and submit a report to the MP government, the release said.

The chief minister and Bhupender Yadav also laid the foundation stone for works costing Rs 71.89 crore including the construction of a bridge in the KNP for Rs 37 crore.

Under the Cheetah Reintroduction Project, eight Namibian cheetahs – five females and three males – were released into enclosures at the KNP on September 17, 2022. In February 2023, another 12 cheetahs were brought to the park from South Africa. (PTI)

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