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Project Cheetah Empowers Local Communities with Bicycles, Celebrates One Year of Successful Cheetah Reintroduction

Project Cheetah Empowers Local Communities with Bicycles, Celebrates One Year of Successful Cheetah Reintroduction


Kuno National Park:  To foster community engagement and conservation efforts, Cheetah Mitras, a dedicated workforce of over 350 individuals from the fringe villages of Kuno, were provided with bicycles by the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Bhupender Yadav, and Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Mohan Yadav. The distribution ceremony, attended by various dignitaries including Forest Minister, MP, local MLAs, Public Representatives, DGF&SS  Jitendra Kumar, and MS NTCA SP Yadav, celebrated the ongoing success of Project Cheetah.

Project Cheetah, a groundbreaking initiative, has not only facilitated the reintroduction of the world’s fastest land animal back to India but has also actively involved local communities in conservation efforts. The Cheetah Mitras, comprising volunteers from fringe areas, have played a crucial role in educating people on man-animal conflict, cheetah movement patterns, and behavior, contributing to peaceful co-existence with minimal conflict events.

Union Minister Bhupender Yadav emphasized the need for inclusive development of the entire landscape connecting Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, transforming it into a world-class eco-tourism center. The focus, he stated, should be on holistic development, including infrastructure, wildlife conservation, staff capacity building, and enhancing the livelihood of the local community through skill upgrading and training.

The decision to provide bicycles to Cheetah Mitras, taken on the first anniversary of the cheetah’s reintroduction to India on September 17, 2022, serves as a strategic initiative to enhance the efficiency and reach of these volunteers. The cycles were provided through the Corporate Social Responsibility of NEECO Industries, facilitated by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

The success of Project Cheetah, which saw the reintroduction of African cheetahs to Kuno National Park after nearly 75 years of local extinction, has been a historic milestone in wildlife conservation. The meticulous implementation involved the translocation of eight cheetahs from Namibia and twelve from South Africa, under the supervision of a team of experts from Namibia, South Africa, and India.

The early indications of the project’s success are encouraging, meeting four out of six criteria set in the Action Plan for assessing short-term success. These include a 50% survival rate of introduced cheetahs, establishment of home ranges, birth of cubs in Kuno, and direct revenue contribution to local communities through the engagement of cheetah trackers.

The most heartening news is the birth and survival of eight cubs on Indian soil, bringing the total number of cheetahs in Kuno to 21. The positive outcomes of Project Cheetah signify not only a conservation success story but also a model for rewilding initiatives worldwide, demonstrating the potential of community involvement in safeguarding endangered species.

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