Can the cheetahs help India’s grasslands?

Source: The post is based on the article “Can the cheetahs help India’s grasslands?” published in The Hindu on 10th March 2023.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Environment

Relevance: concerns associated with the re-introduction of cheetahs in India

News: Government is trying to re-introduce cheetahs in India by bringing them from Namibia and South Africa.

Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park has been chosen as the site for the re-introduction of cheetahs. The article discusses the several aspects of survival of cheetahs in India.

How long will it take for cheetahs to adapt in the Indian climate?

Cheetahs have come from a very different terrain to India. Therefore, it might take time to adapt in the Indian climate.

Moreover, it is not only the adaptation to climate that will determine the success of reintroduction of cheetahs to India.

The factors such as reproduction and a self-sustaining population also plays a role in determining the survival of cheetahs in India.

Further, Cheetah Action Plan states that in 15 years the project will be considered a success if Kuno reaches an established population of 21 adults.

Can the reintroduction of cheetahs help in improving India’s grasslands?

India doesn’t have vast savannah grasslands like Africa from where the cheetahs are coming. There are only six or seven savannah types of grasslands present in India.

Therefore, the healthier population of cheetahs will indicate improving grasslands in India because they mostly prefer to prey in these grasslands.

However, it will take 30-40 years for the cheetah to reach a population of 20-40 animals. Therefore, it becomes difficult to say that Indian grasslands will improve with the re-introduction of cheetahs in India.

Will re-introduction of cheetahs contribute to the development of a larger ecosystem?

As it has been seen in the case of tigers, there has been a remarkable increase in the tiger reserves from 9 to 53. Therefore, it is expected that reintroduction of cheetahs will also help in the improvement of the ecosystem.

However, when we look at the animal’s habitat, it becomes difficult to say that it will improve the ecosystem because cheetahs are the weakest of the large cats.

They exist at low densities of less than one per 100 sq km. 8-10 cheetahs can be hosted in an area of 750 sq km which is a smaller number.

Therefore, it is not feasible to say that re-introduction cheetahs will help in the development of a larger ecosystem.

Moreover, the government is planning to promote eco-tourism with the re-introduction of cheetahs.

Is it feasible to promote ecotourism and conservation together?

Eco-tourism along with conservation can be promoted. However, there is also a need to address the challenge associated with it because there have been experiences that people over do it.

Ecotourism helps in generating employment for the locals, but any tourism plan must be community driven.

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