Cheetahs, also known as the fastest land animals, once roamed the grasslands of India alongside other native wildlife such as tigers, lions, and leopards. However, the cheetahs' extinction from India has been recorded in the late 1950s due to hunting, habitat loss, and disease.
The cheetahs in India were known as the Asiatic cheetahs, a subspecies that was once found in countries like Iran, Turkmenistan, and Pakistan. These animals were known for their slender build, distinctive black spots on golden fur, and lightning-fast speed. The Asiatic cheetahs were a symbol of power, agility, and grace and were often associated with royalty and nobility in India.
The decline of the Asiatic cheetah population started in the early 20th century when hunting became rampant in India. The Indian princes and British colonizers were fond of hunting cheetahs for sport, which led to a significant decrease in their numbers. Additionally, the loss of habitat due to urbanization, farming, and livestock grazing further reduced their population, leaving them with little food and shelter.
Disease also played a significant role in the cheetah's extinction in India. In the 1940s, an outbreak of canine distemper, a viral disease that affects wild and domestic animals, killed many cheetahs. The outbreak was so severe that it wiped out the entire cheetah population in the Indian subcontinent.
Despite the cheetahs' extinction from India, efforts have been made to reintroduce the animal in the country. In 1957, the Indian government attempted to reintroduce the African cheetah in India. However, the project failed due to insufficient funds, lack of suitable habitat, and logistical challenges.
Recently, there has been a renewed effort to reintroduce the Asiatic cheetah in India. In 2020, the Supreme Court of India directed the government to explore the possibility of reintroducing the Asiatic cheetah in the country. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has been given the task of studying the feasibility of reintroducing the animal in India.
The NTCA has identified suitable habitats in four states of India, including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Jammu and Kashmir. The organization has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Iranian government to bring the Asiatic cheetahs from Iran to India.
The Asiatic cheetahs from Iran are genetically identical to the ones that once roamed the Indian subcontinent, making them the perfect candidates for reintroduction. The Iranian government has also expressed its willingness to help India in the reintroduction process.
However, reintroducing the Asiatic cheetah in India is not an easy task. The animal's habitat must be carefully chosen to ensure their survival and minimize human-wildlife conflict. The government must also work with local communities to create awareness and garner support for the conservation of the Asiatic cheetah.Cheetahs are the fastest land animals, capable of reaching speeds of up to 70 miles per hour. They are found in sub-Saharan Africa and a small population in Iran. Cheetahs have distinctive black "tear marks" on their faces and are solitary animals. Their populations are threatened by habitat loss and hunting.It is theFastest land animal with distinctive black tear marks.