Anindo Dey, TNN 26 July 2009, 06:41am IST
SARISKA: Sixty years after cheetah became extinct in India, there's hope: if everything goes as per plan, Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary, 32 km from
Bikaner in Rajasthan, will welcome the wild cats, which would be brought from African countries.
The ministry of forests and environment is now working out the nitty-gritty. As a first step, a two-day seminar of technical experts on cheetahs will be held in Gajner from September 9.
"Experts on cheetah, including Divya Bhanu Singh Chabra and NK Ranjit Singh, will present their papers on how to go about bringing cheetahs to India," said forest and environment minister Jairam Ramesh.
The minister said the initial plans are to bring the cheetahs to Gajner. "We want to set up a breeding ground for the cheetahs and Gajner seems to fit the bill perfectly. Thereafter, they will be transported to various states,"
The Gajner wildlife sanctuary was the royal hunting ground of the Maharaja of Bikaner and is home to a number of wild animals, including wild fowls, deer, antelope, nilgai, chinkara, black buck, desert fox and wild boars.
"We had planned to bring cheetahs from Iran, but it's not keen. In fact Iran wanted a lion in exchange for a cheetah... and we are not able to do that. We are now thinking of bringing them from South Africa, Namibia, Kenya or Tanzania," the minister said.
Cheetah, the world's fastest animal, became extinct in India some 60 years ago. A cheetah was last sighted in eastern Madhya Pradesh in 1947, but it was hunted by the then ruler of that area. The species was declared extinct in 1952.
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org