Cheetah reintroduction 2022 in India

Cheetah, the fastest animal in the world which once was very common in India from north to south, reintroduced again in India after an extinction of 70 years. Eight cheetahs consist of three male and five female big cats were brought from Namibia, a south western African country and reintroduced in Kuno National Park of Madhya Pradesh in central India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally monitored this historic arrival of African Cheetahs. Cheetah was officially declared extinct in 1952 and is the only one large carnivore in the country which became extinct in the recent history.

Extinction from India

Eventhogh official declaration of cheetah extinction was made in 1952, according to a photo in Bombay Natural History Society, Koria king (a princely state of British India now part of Chattisgarhstate) shot three cheetahs in 1947 which was widely regarded as the last Asiatic cheetahs in India. British officers and Indian royalty have hunted Asiatic cheetahs massively. In fact the same year of Indian independence in 1947, cheetahs became extinct. Even after this incident, several cheetah spotting have been reported but could not prove or remaining cheetahs  might be lived a couple of years in isolated forest areas before they become completely extinct.

Wild hunting and habitat reduction were the major reasons of cheetah extinction in India. Cheetah, a wild animal but easiest cats to tame became main target of royal hunters. Hunting or domestication of cheetah were considered as proud. Hunting was traditionally a royal sport in India and all over the world. Cheetahs were not a threat to humans and are easy to tame compared to other wild animals like tigers and lions.

Efforts to bring Cheetahs into India

After the independence, India planned to re-establish Asiatic cheetahs to the places where they previously roamed. Artificial re-introduction was a tough and difficult task as world countries were not willing to hand over their existing cheetahs population which was under high risk category. African continent and parts of Iran was the remaining places where there were active presence of cheetahs. India preferred Asiatic cheetahs from Iran over African cheetahs as India previously had Asiatic cheetahs. Former Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi had made agreements with Iranian government to hand over cheetahs to India but Islamic revolution in 1979 stopped continuation of cheetah exchange. After the revolution, Iranian government were unlikely willing to hand over their cheetahs which numbered nearly 70.

Efforts to bring African Cheetahs to India began in 2009-2010, but Supreme Court of India rejected the appeal citing that India does not have required habitat and prey density to accommodate African Cheetahs. In 2020 Supreme Court approved reintroduction of African Cheetahs to India. Eight cheetahs from Namibia reached Kuno National Park after a long ride of 9000 kilometers.

Kuno National Park

Kuno National Park which is located in the Sheopur and Morena districts of northern Madhya Pradesh with an area of 344 km². Kuno National Park was started in 1981 as a wildlife sanctuary and later in 2018 it was given the status of National Park. Kuno National Park derived its name from Kuno river which flows through the Park which is the major source of water.

South African Cheetahs

After 5 months of reintroduction of Namibian Cheetahs, another coalition of 12 cheetahs were brought from South Africa to Kuno National Park. Thus total number of cheetahs rose into 20.


On 27 March, 2023, one of the ten cheetahs brought from Namibia, “Sasha” (female cheetah) was found dead in Kuno National Park creating panic in wildlife enthusiasts and Government. Sasha was suffering from dehydration and renal disorders for longtime. subsequently within six months, another seven cheetahs including cubs died of many reasons like fighting each other and other unknown severe injuries.

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