In India, cheetahs were officially declared extinct in 1952.
After 70 years, efforts have begun to resettle cheetahs in the country.
PM Modi on Saturday left 8 cheetahs brought from Namibia at Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh.
New Delhi. 70 years after the extinction of cheetahs in India, the government has started efforts to resettle this wild Vidal in the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday released eight cheetahs brought from Namibia into special enclosures in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park.
However, amidst the joy of resettling these cheetahs, a question that arises in everyone’s mind is why did the cheetah become extinct in India? Experts explain several reasons behind this, which News18 brings to you.
Climate change, low fertility rates, hunting
According to a National Geographic report, cheetahs are facing extinction worldwide as a result of climate change, human hunting and destruction of natural habitats. All this reduces the size of their population.
This report further suggests that cheetahs’ own genes are also endangering their existence. Cheetahs have a low reproductive success rate and may not grow at that rate or adapt to environmental changes if they have fewer offspring.
A researcher included in the Indian delegation to the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP 14) said that desertification was the main reason for the extinction of the cheetah.
domestic and sports use
However, there were many other reasons behind the extinction of these cheetahs in India. A report published in the English newspaper The Hindu claims that the unique characteristics of this Vidal contributed to his elimination. One of them was that it was very easy to tame – it was often trained to run and hunt animals, almost like a hunter, and then used in a “game” called “corsings”… and so they were taken as hostages in large numbers for use in hunting.
A photograph from the year 1878 shared by IFS officer Parveen Kaswan also sheds light on the cause of cheetah extinction. In this, the cheetahs are shown chained like pet dogs.
— Parveen Kaswan, IFS (@ParveenKaswan) September 16, 2022
As The Hindu reports, this animal’s humility also worked against it. These cheetahs were so gentle that they were compared to dogs. The report said that it never frightened people like tigers, lions and leopards.
The paper quoted the English naturalist WT Blanford as saying: “The hunting cheetah is easy to tame. It takes about six months to bring it to a state of complete obedience and complete its training. Many of these animals, when are tamed, they become gentle and docile like dogs. They are happy to be pets and show good nature even with strangers, growling and rubbing their bodies like cats against their friends. When tamed, they are usually kept on a leash to a crib or wall, or are kept in a cage.’
extinction due to hunting
A report in the Indian Express has described hunting as a favorite pastime of Indian royalty, which has been around for centuries. Cheetahs, which were easier to tame and less dangerous than tigers, were often used by Indian elites for sport hunting. The report states that the earliest record of cheetahs being used for hunting in India is found in the 12th century Sanskrit text Manasullas, written by the Kalyani Chalukya ruler Someswara III (who ruled from 1127 to 1138 AD).
According to wildlife expert Divyabhanusingh, cheetah racing or the use of trained cheetahs for hunting became a very prevalent activity in medieval times and was widely practiced during the Mughal Empire. Emperor Akbar, who ruled from 1556 to 1605, was particularly fond of this activity and is said to have collected 9,000 cheetahs during his lifetime.
under British rule
The same Indian Express report suggests that cheetahs were close to extinction during British rule. However, he was not interested in chasing the cheetahs. The report says: “They used to hunt large animals like tigers, buffaloes and elephants. During the British Raj, forests were extensively cleared to develop settlements and establish indigo, tea and coffee plantations. This led to the loss of the ‘natural habitat of these Vidalas, a fact that contributed to their extinction.
Tigers used to be the favorite prey of the British, but some Indian and British hunters used to hunt cheetahs. According to the report, there is evidence that the British authorities considered this animal as a “predator” and as early as 1871 began to reward money for killing cheetahs. In Sindh, the reward for killing a cheetah cub was 6 rupees and for killing an adult was 12 rupees. According to environmental historian Mahesh Rangarajan, this administrative policy of the British Raj “played a major role in its (cheetah) extinction in India”.
Information shared on Twitter by IFS officer Parveen Kaswan highlights how hunting affected the cheetah population:
— Parveen Kaswan, IFS (@ParveenKaswan) September 16, 2022
Harmful mutations and inbreeding a threat
National Geographic reports how cheetahs are on the verge of extinction. According to genetic analysis of wild cheetahs, they may have escaped two historical barriers, events that significantly reduced population size, according to the report.
“When this happens, the few survivors go through inbreeding or mating with relatives,” the report says. Inbreeding reduces the size of the gene pool, which can lead to problems such as reduced genetic mutations and potentially harmful mutations. This makes it harder for the rest of the population to adapt to environmental changes and they are on the verge of extinction.
Tags: Asiatic Cheetah, PM Narendra Modi Birthday
FIRST PUBLICATION: September 17, 2022, 4:01 PM IST