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Centre forms high-level Cheetah Project Steering Committee
Image: UNI

Centre forms high-level Cheetah Project Steering Committee

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 27 May 2023, 12:11 am

New Delhi: The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), which implements Project Cheetah, has formed a high-level Cheetah Project Steering Committee, a press release by the Union Environment Ministry said.

This committee supersedes the previous Cheetah Task Force.

The new committee has been formed in accordance with a decision made during a meeting chaired by the Director General of Forest &SS and attended by the Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) of the Government of Madhya Pradesh.

The new committee has 11 members. The Committee will be chaired by Rajesh Gopal (former member secretary of the NTCA and currently with the Global Tiger Forum).

Members of the Committee include R.N. Mehrotra, former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Head of Forest Force, Rajasthan; P. R. Sinha, a former director of the Wildlife Institute of India; H. S. Negi, a member of the NTCA; G. S. Rawat, former Dean of the WII; Qamar Qureshi, a scientist with the WII; the current Inspector General of the NTCA; the current Chief Wildlife Warden of Madhya Pradesh, and others.

A four-member consulting panel of international Cheetah experts has also been appointed who will provide advice ‘as an when required’.

It comprises Prof. Adrian Tordiffe, Veterinary Wildlife Specialist from Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa; Dr. Laurie Marker, CCF from Namibia;  Dr. Andrew John Fraser, Farm Olievenbosch, South Africa and Vincent van dan Merwe: Manager, Cheetah Metapopulation Project, The Metapopulation Initiative, South Africa.

The Steering Committee will conduct a comprehensive review of the progress made in the Cheetah introduction project by the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department and NTCA. It will closely monitor the developments and provide necessary advice and guidance.

Additionally, the Task Force will explore the feasibility of opening the Cheetah habitat for eco-tourism purposes.

It will formulate recommendations and regulations to ensure sustainable and responsible tourism practices in the Cheetah habitat.

The Task Force will also focus on establishing effective community engagement and involvement in the project activities.

It will propose strategies for meaningful community interface and seek ways to actively engage local communities in conservation efforts.

The Steering Committee will be operational for a duration of two years, convening at least one monthly meeting.

Furthermore, it will conduct field visits as needed to assess the progress and address on-ground challenges.

The committee will have the flexibility to seek consultation from relevant experts whenever necessary.

For specialised insights and advice, the Task Force will seek input from a panel of International Cheetah experts. These experts may be consulted remotely or invited to India based on specific requirements.

To facilitate the efficient functioning of the committee, the NTCA and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change will provide necessary support and coordination.

The travel expenses of non-official members and other incidental costs will be covered by the NTCA in accordance with the prevailing rules and regulations.

In September last year, India introduced eight Cheetahs from Namibia into Madhya Pradesh's Kuno National Park in an ambitious project to reintroduce the animals in the South Asian nation after their extinction some 70 years ago.

The cheetahs were brought to India with the aim of reviving the population of the big cat in the country.

Over five years, more than 50 cheetahs from South Africa and Namibia, will be introduced in various Indian national parks, including Kuno.

Out of the 20 cheetahs that were transported from Africa to India in the past year, marking the first-ever intercontinental relocation of these animals, only 17 are currently remaining.

In the last three months, female Cheetahs Daksha and Sasha and a male Uday have died in Kuno National Park.