Bhopal: Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has constituted a Task Force for monitoring Cheetah introduction in Kuno National Park, Madhya Pradesh and other suitable designated areas.
A statement by the ministry read, “The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) would facilitate the working of the Cheetah Task Force and render all necessary help. The Task Force shall be in force for a period of two years. This task force may appoint a subcommittee to regularly visit the Cheetah introduction area as and when decided by them.”
The statement added that the cheetah restoration is part of a prototype or model for the restoration of original cheetah habitats and their biodiversity. “This will help to stem the degradation and rapid loss of biodiversity”, it added.
Bringing back a top predator restores historic evolutionary balance resulting in cascading effects on various levels of the ecosystem. Bringing the cheetah back is expected to have important conservation ramifications.
The statement added, “The cheetah has been the evolutionary natural selection force that has shaped the adaptation of high speeds in Indian antelopes and gazelles. By restoring cheetah, we would also be able to save not only its prey base comprising certain threatened species, but also other endangered species of the grasslands / open forest ecosystems, some of which are on the brink of extinction.”
The Task Force has been constituted to:
- Review, progress and monitor the health status of Cheetahs, upkeep of the quarantine & soft release enclosures, protection status of the entire area, adherence to the defined protocols by forest & veterinary officials and advice on Cheetah introduction in India to the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department and NTCA on status of Cheetah with respect to overall health, behaviour and their upkeep.
- Monitor hunting skills and adaptation of Cheetahs to the habitat of Kuno National Park.
- Monitor the release of Cheetah from Quarantine bomas to soft-release enclosures and then to grassland and open forest areas.
- Open Cheetah habitat for eco-tourism and suggest regulations in this regard.
- Suggest and advise on the development of tourism infrastructure in the fringe areas of Kuno National Park and other Protected Areas.
- Regularly interact with Cheetah Mitras and local communities for their awareness raising and also involvement in protection of Cheetahs in particular & area in general.