Once a royal companion, the Asiatic cheetah suffered extinction in India in 1952. After 70 years, India hopes to welcome cheetahs into its wilds again.
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Eight of these beautiful cats made the long trek from Namibia to India as part of an ambitious but controversial plan to re-introduce cheetahs to the Indian subcontinent. They were released into Kuno national park where scientists hope the world's fastest land animal will once again roam free in the country.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was part of the release operation when the cats emerged tentatively from their cages, constantly scanning their surroundings.India hopes to restore grasslands to their natural order and increase eco-tourism with this venture.
Cheetahs were once widespread in India but became extinct in 1952 due to loss of habitat and ruthless hunting in the colonial era.
There are less than 7000 cheetahs left in the wild globally today and they occupy a mere 9% of their original range; Advocates speculate that the project could offer a suitable home to the dwindling species.The move still remains hotly contested as many worry that the African cheetahs will struggle to adapt to their new Indian environment.
Source: BBC News and APNews
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