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Cheetahs Reintroduced to India After 70 Years

    Cheetahs Reintroduced to India After 70 Years
    Last updated: 2 months ago
    Image credit: EPA [via BBC]

    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. [1]
    • 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. [2]
    • The cheetah population in most countries is declining, with the only exception being South Africa, where the cats have run out of space. With less than 7k adult cheetahs left in the wild globally, Indian conservationists hope that importing African cheetahs will thrive and also support the preservation of grasslands. [2]
    • Some Indian conservation experts have labeled the effort a "vanity project," saying that India's 1.4B population will not provide the cheetahs the room needed to roam without fear of endangerment by people or predators. [1]
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    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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