South African cheetah in quarantine before relocation to India (September 2022)
More than a hundred cheetahs are expected to migrate from South Africa to India in the coming years.
This is part of an extensive program to reintroduce the world's fastest land animals to their destination country, the South African Ministry of the Environment said on Thursday.
The first twelve cheetahs should be flown to India as early as February.
"The plan envisages relocating twelve more animals annually over the next ten years," it said.
Asiatic cheetahs lived in India for a long time until the species was declared extinct in the country in 1952.
Only a few specimens of the animals that were widespread in earlier centuries from the Middle East to the Indian subcontinent now live in Iran.
African cheetahs for India
The animals now coming from South Africa are African cheetahs – a different subspecies.
However, since cheetahs cannot be bred in captivity, the animals are now going on a journey of around 8,500 kilometers.
There was a heated argument about their settlement.
In 2020, India's Supreme Court ruled that the African cheetahs may be released at a "carefully selected site" and initially only at an experimental level.
India has since received eight cheetahs from Namibia.
They were taken to Kuno National Park a good 300 kilometers south of New Delhi.
The Indian forest authority recently announced that the cheetahs have settled in well in their new home and have also become accustomed to the local prey animals.
According to official information, the Indian project is the first attempt in the world to relocate cheetahs across different continents.