Cheetahs once widespread across the Indian subcontinent were declared extinct in the country in 1952, due to excessive hunting, habitat loss and lack of prey.
The lost known Cheetah in India met his fate in 1947 in Chhattisgarh.
Collaborating with global conservation bodies India has been exploring the reintroduction of the African Cheetah. Potential habitat such as Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh was earmarked based on the factors like prey density and minimal human interference.
Role of effective conservation strategies:
- Habitat Restoration and Expansion: Revitalize the grasslands and open forests which are the natural habitats of Cheetahs. Ensuring they have vast area to roam and hunt.
E.g. Velavadar Blackbuck national park in Gujrat is known for its grasslands ecosystem, it can serve as an ideal habitat.
- Prey Based Enhancement: Maintain a healthy population of herbivores in the potential habitat to support the carnivores’ diet of Cheetah.
E.g. the successful increase of the Blackbuck population in certain Indian reserves can be mirrored in potential Cheetah habitats.
- Anti-poaching measures: Strengthen surveillance and patrolling areas E.g., the reduction of tiger poaching in reserves like Sariska and Ranthambore, owing to the increased surveillance and strict anti-poaching laws, can be a modal.
- Community engagement: Involve local communities in conservation efforts by making them stakeholders.
- g., snow leopard conservation programme in Himalayas, engage farmers and turn former poachers into protector.
- Health monitoring and veterinary care: Regular health checks and disease prevention e.g., India’s project Elephant has structured health monitoring system.
- Public awareness and education: Implement education programmes to highlight the importance of Cheetahs in the ecosystem e.g. “My Tiger My Pride” campaign raised public support for Tiger conservation.
Implication for Biodiversity conservation:
Holistic Ecosystem Development: Cheetah conservation paves the way for entire ecosystem. The grassland restoration essential for Cheetahs. Simultaneously supports diverse flora and fauna.
Ecological balance: the Cheetah is an apex predator will help maintain ecological equilibrium, much like how the introduction of wolves in Yellowstone national park reshaped the ecosystem by controlling Elk numbers and enabling vegetation recovery.