Prime Minister Narendra Modi reminded the nation that the wheel of time rarely offers “an opportunity to rectify the past and build a new future” but “today has such a moment ahead of us,” and set cheetahs in Kuno National Park in Madhya from Namibia free Pradesh Saturday, 70 years after the cheetah was declared extinct in India.
At 11.25am, hours after eight cheetahs – five females and three males – landed in India, Modi, who turned 72 on Saturday, stood on a platform above two boxes and opened her doors to release two cheetahs into a quarantine enclosure . He took photos as the cheetahs stepped into their new habitat.
In an address to the nation a little later, the prime minister urged people to “be patient” and wait a few months before visiting the park to see the cheetahs.
“Today these cheetahs came as guests and are not familiar with this area. In order for these cheetahs to make Kuno National Park their home, we need to give them a few months. International guidelines are being followed and India is trying its best to reintroduce these cheetahs. We must not allow our efforts to fail.”
“Decades ago, an ancient link in biodiversity was severed and became extinct. Today we have the chance to restore it. Today the cheetahs have returned to the soil of India. And I would also like to say that with these cheetahs, the nature-loving consciousness of India was also awakened in full force.”
“I congratulate all my compatriots on this historic occasion. In particular, I thank our friend Namibia and its government, with whose cooperation the cheetahs have returned to Indian soil after several decades,” he said.
“If we are away from our roots, we lose a lot. Therefore, in this “Amrit Kaal” of independence, we have repeated the meaning of “Paanch Pranas” (five promises) such as “being proud of our heritage” and “liberation from the mentality of slavery”.
prime minister @narendramodi releases 8 wild cheetahs brought from Namibia in Kuno National Park. #CheetahIsBack #IndiaWelcomesCheetah #ProjectCheetah @moefcc @byadavbjp @MIB_India @PIB_India @mygovindia pic.twitter.com/2RPBAStPng
– All Indian Radio News (@airnewsalerts) 09/17/2022
“We also saw the time when the exploitation of nature was considered a symbol of power and modernity. When only the last three cheetahs were left in the country in 1947, they too were hunted mercilessly and irresponsibly in the forests,” he said.
“It is unfortunate that we declared the country’s cheetahs extinct in 1952, but no significant effort was made to rehabilitate them for decades. Now the country is committed to rehabilitating cheetahs with renewed energy in the “Amrit Kaal” of independence,” he said.
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) 09/17/2022
The prime minister pointed out that years of hard work had gone into this rehabilitation project, saying that most of the energy was put into an area that was not given much political importance.
“A detailed Cheetah Action Plan was drawn up while our talented scientists conducted extensive research and worked closely with South African and Namibian experts. Scientific surveys were conducted across the country to find the most suitable area for cheetahs, and then Kuno National Park was selected. Today our hard work lies ahead of us,” he said.
With the cheetahs now in Kuno National Park, the grassland ecosystem will be restored, he said, and it will also lead to an increase in biodiversity and improve ecotourism and job opportunities in the area.
He said that when the world looks at nature and the environment today, it speaks of sustainable development. “For India, nature and environment, its animals and birds, is not just about sustainability and safety, but the basis of the country’s sensitivity and spirituality,” he said.
“We are taught to care for even the smallest creatures that live around us. Our traditions are such that when a living being’s life goes by without a reason, we are filled with guilt. Then how can we accept that the existence of an entire species is lost because of us?” he said.
The prime minister said that cheetahs can now be found in some countries in Africa and Iran. However, the name of India was removed from this list a long time ago. “The India of the 21st Century” signals to the whole world that economy and ecology are not opposites.
“Today, on the one hand, we are one of the fastest growing economies in the world. At the same time, the country’s forest areas are expanding rapidly. About 250 new protected areas have been added to the country since our government was formed in 2014. Asiatic lion numbers have also increased greatly here and Gujarat has become a dominant sphere of Asiatic lions in the country. Decades of hard work, research-based policies and public participation play a big part in this,” he said, adding that numbers of tigers, lions and the once-endangered one-horned rhino have increased, as has elephant numbers nationwide to 30,000 .
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The Prime Minister also interacted with Cheetah Mitras, the Cheetah Rehabilitation Management Group and students at the venue. Among those in attendance were Madhya Pradesh Governor Mangubhai Patel, Prime Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Union Ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Bhupender Yadav, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Ashwini Choubey.
The introduction of Cheetah to India comes as part of Project Cheetah, the world’s first intercontinental large wild carnivore translocation project.