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CHEETAH CONSERVATION FUND TO ASSIST WILDLIFE AUTHORITIES IN INDIA WITH CHEETAH REINTRODUCTION PROJECT
OTJIWARONGO, Namibia – 29 January 2020 — Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) will assist the Wildlife Trust of India, the Wildlife Institute of India, and the Central and State Governments of India with a pilot programme to reintroduce cheetah to the landscape of India. While the country had long been part of the Asiatic cheetah’s historic range, the critically endangered sub-species, Acinonyx jubatus venaticus, was determined to have gone locally extinct in the early 1950’s.
“We are excited about the project and the hope it provides for long-term cheetah survival. We are pleased to be assisting the government of India. Reintroduction will be a long and difficult process, but we accept the challenge”, said Dr Laurie Marker, CCF’s Founder and Executive Director. “The potential of bringing the cheetah back into the wild to allow the endangered grasslands to prosper is very worthwhile”.
CCF and Dr Marker began consulting with the Indian government in 2009 about reintroduction. Along with other members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Cat Specialist Group, Veterinary Specialist Group and Reintroduction Specialist Group, Dr Marker traveled to India to attend a series of meetings on the utilisation of the southern African subspecies, Acinonyx jubatus jubatus, for reintroduction. In 2011, Dr Marker returned to conduct site visits to determine habitat suitability, prey base and the presence of natural predators. She delivered recommendations based on her findings to Indian wildlife authorities. Yesterday, after a series of hearings spanning almost a decade to review the documentation, the Supreme Court of India agreed to allow the cheetah pilot programme to move forward.
CCF will consult with governments from countries that may provide cheetahs and will assist in identifying those to be included the pilot programme. Any movement of cheetah will be done through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES). CCF will consult with conservation governing bodies, such as IUCN, and the international cheetah conservation community. Several options are already under assessment. CCF will also assist with the design of the pilot programme, and CCF staff will provide technical support throughout its deployment.
“To save cheetahs from extinction, we need to create more permanent places for them on Earth. India has areas of grassland and open forest habitat, which are ideal for this species. The government has a progressive mindset. They view cheetah reintroduction as a way to encourage healthy biodiversity. They are looking at the big picture. We think they are setting a marvelous precedent with this reintroduction”, said Dr Marker. “CCF commends the decision of the Supreme Court”.
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Cheetah Conservation Fund
Conservation Fund (CCF) is the global leader in research and conservation of cheetahs and dedicated to saving the cheetah in the wild. CCF is an international non-profit organisation headquartered in Namibia, with a base in Somaliland and operations in the United States, Canada, Australia, Italy, Belgium and the United Kingdom. CCF has fundraising partner organizations in Germany, The Netherlands and Kenya. Founded in 1990, CCF is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2020, making it the longest running and most successful cheetah conservation organisation. For more information, please visit www.cheetah.org.