PROJECT CHEETAH is a landmark achievement for cheetah conservation made possible by cooperation between Namibia and India, with the assistance of the Cheetah Conservation Fund.
Today, as we watch this airplane take off carrying eight Namibian cheetahs to their new home on another continent 8,296 kilometres away, it shall be a great moment of pride for all Namibians. We, as a nation, are helping this beautiful big cat species survive by helping launch a new wild population in India.
We are earning our title, Cheetah Capital of the World.
As International Patron for CCF, I know this milestone traces back to 2009 for Namibia, when a group of CCF scientists first travelled to India to share their expertise. In 2020, the Supreme Court of India gave its permission for the project to move forward. Over the past two-and-a-half-years, Project Cheetah has rapidly accelerated, with a bilateral agreement on wildlife conservation signed 20 July of this year.
As part of this agreement, Namibia is donating eight cheetahs to help India re-establish the species in their country. Because India has a strong conservation ethos and because experts from Cheetah Conservation Fund have assessed the sites in India, Namibia has agreed to participate.
‘Living with Wildlife’ is the Namibian philosophy of wildlife management. Namibia’s conservation models are internationally recognised for helping our communities to co-exist with wildlife.
The good stewardship of Namibia’s natural resources is a source of national pride, and it supports the economy. Having healthy cheetah populations is one of the main reasons tourists visit our nation. Cheetah tourism contributes to the wellbeing of all Namibians. This is something we hope to share with India.
Our conservation plan encourages wildlife recovery and restores the environment while improving people’s livelihoods. Namibia’s conservancies are important allies in cheetah conservation. In our experience, the local communities are the champions for the species, once they experience equitable benefits from conservation.
Of course, government also plays a direct role by establishing appropriate wildlife policies.
Our responsibility lies with both environmental conservation and safeguarding the interest of human beings and their livelihoods, in harmony. The Earth is not ours; it is a treasure we hold in trust for future generations.
To achieve this, we need to continue to search for sustainable ways in which nature and human beings can co-exist peacefully.
As the Cheetah Conservation Fund motto says, “We can live together”.
With that, we send these eight goodwill ambassadors to India, the feline icons of speed and grace.
May God go with you.
Dr Peter H. Katjavivi
Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia
International Patron, Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF)
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