Cheetahs Reintroduced to India After 70 Years

Image copyright: EPA [via BBC]

The Facts

  • Coinciding with his birthday, India's PM Narendra Modi released eight radio-collared African cheetahs into the Kuno National Park, in Madhya Pradesh, on Saturday after a 13-year effort to restore the species in India.

  • Once widespread in India, cheetahs became extinct 70 years ago due to hunting and habitat loss from human expansion. They remain the first and only predator in the country to die out since India's independence in 1947.

The Spin

Narrative A

Cheetahs are highly-adaptable animals, and this is a victory for conservation efforts in India and worldwide. The release site was thoroughly examined for habitat, prey, and potential for human-animal interactions. This reintroduction will help restore the ecosystems for big cats and will help build local economies.

Narrative B

Skepticism is warranted, and conservationists are correct in calling this effort a "vanity project." African cheetahs are only a subspecies of the endangered Asiatic cheetah and are not native to the Indian subcontinent. Growing fears of the imported cats not having enough room to roam, combined with the fact they aren't native to the area, paints the project more as a PR stunt for Modi than a genuine victory for the planet.

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