Snap judgment – Every birth or death should not be seen as success or failure of Project Cheetah

Source: The post is based on the article “Snap judgment – Every birth or death should not be seen as success or failure of Project Cheetah” published in The Hindu on 11th May 2023.

Syllabus: GS – 3: Environment and Bio-diversity Conservation.

Relevance: About issues in India’s cheetah reintroduction project.

News: It is almost three months since South Africa sent a batch of 12 cheetahs to India and three have already died. About 15% of the animals have not made it past the first phase of India’s ambitious Project Cheetah. This raises some doubts about Project Cheetah.

About Sasha, Cheetah Reintroduction Project and Kuno National Park

Read here: Cheetah Sasha dies due to kidney ailment in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park

About the progress of the Cheetah Reintroduction Project so far

Read here: Cheetah Reintroduction Project: progress so far – Explained, pointwise

Note: The aim is to establish a sustainable population of about 35 cheetahs in the next decade by bringing in a few every year from Africa. 

What are the concerns highlighted by environmentalists on project Cheetah?

a) Kuno National Park is inadequate to host 20 cheetahs and some ought to be in other sanctuaries, b) The existing batch of animals lived far too long in captivity for the translocation and thus were excessively stressed and more vulnerable.

Can one measure the success of the project Cheetah now?

The success of wildlife breeding programmes must be measured over longer intervals.  The increase in the lion population in Gir, Gujarat, as well as tiger numbers, have been the result of sustained efforts over decades. So, it is premature to measure the success of the cheetah translocation programme.

So, every death and every birth should not be seen as markers of failure or success. To silence the critics, the government has to clearly define criteria with timelines that project managers must adhere to. This in future might aid in course correction of the project as well.

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