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SEE: Namibian cheetah's first moments on Indian soil

September 17, 2022 20:40 IST

As the door of its cage slid open, the first of the eight cheetahs brought to Madhya Pradesh's Kuno National Park hesitated for a moment or two before stepping out onto the grass.

It then ran, came to a halt near a tree and scanned the surroundings, its new home 8,000 km away from its native Namibia, by turning the neck in every direction.

The moments were captured by TV cameras and also by prime minister Narendra Modi who clicked pictures with his DSLR camera from the high dais above the cage from which the cheetah had emerged into a special quarantine enclosure.

At around 11.30 am, Modi operated a lever to release three of eight cheetahs brought to India from Namibia as part of a project to revive the population of the animal which became extinct in India 1952.

After spending a month in the quarantine enclosure, the eight cheetahs -- five female, three male -- will be shifted to an acclimatization enclosure within the national park where they will stay for up to four months before being released in the wild.

In his speech after releasing cheetahs, prime minister Modi cautioned that they need time to get used to their new surroundings before people can see them in the wild.

"Cheetahs are our guests; we should give them a few months to make Kuno National Park their home," he said.

The KNP, spread over 700 sq km, is situated on the northern side of Vindhyachal mountains. It derives its name from the Kuno river, a tributary of the Chambal.

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