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Why in news :

  • India is expected to welcome the first batch of 12 cheetahs from South Africa this weekend, after eight of these big cats were ferried from Namibia last September.
  • The cheetahs, five of them female, have taken off from Johannesburg aboard an Indian Air Force Boeing C­17 Globemaster aircraft.
  • They are expected to reach Gwalior on Friday and will then be taken to the Kuno National Park (KNP) in Madhya Pradesh by helicopters.
  • The agreement with the South African government is to send 10 to 12 cheetahs every year, potentially for the next decade.
  • The ultimate objective is to have a sustainable self-perpetuating population.
  • A major goal, along with establishing a viable population, is to develop the region as a tourism hotspot to benefit the local economy.

More about Cheetah :

  • The cheetah is a large cat native to Africa and central Iran.
  • It is the fastest land animal, estimated to be capable of running at 80 to 128 km/h.
  • The cheetah lives in three main social groups : females and their cubs, male “coalitions”, and solitary males.
  • While females lead a nomadic life searching for prey in large home ranges, males are more sedentary and instead establish much smaller territories in areas with plentiful prey and access to females.
  • The cheetah is active during the day, with peaks during dawn and dusk.
  • After a gestation of nearly three months, a litter of typically three or four cubs is born.
  • Cheetah cubs are highly vulnerable to predation by other large carnivores such as hyenas and lions.

Asiatic cheetah :

  • This subspecies is confined to central Iran, and is the only surviving cheetah population in Asia.
  • As of 2022, only 12 individuals were estimated to survive in Iran, nine of which are males and three of which are females.

Conservation status :

  • Asiatic cheetah : critically endangered
  • African cheetah : Vulnerable

Syllabus : Prelims; Environment

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