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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Assessing the Potential for Reintroducing the Cheetah in India

Principal Investigator: Dr. M. K. Ranjitsinh and Dr. Y. V. Jhala
Research Team: Hemsingh Gehlot, Neeraj Mahar, Priya Singh, Shivam Shrotriya and Ushma Shukla


Reintroductions of large carnivores have increasingly been recognised as a strategy to conserve threatened species and restore ecosystem functions. The cheetah is the only large carnivore that has been extirpated, mainly by over-hunting in India in historical times. India now has the economic ability to consider restoring its lost natural heritage for ethical as well as ecological reasons. With this context, a consultative meeting of global experts was held at Gajner in September, 2009. A consensus was reached at this meeting for conducting a detailed survey in selected sites to explore the potential of reintroducing the cheetah in India.In this report we assess 10 sites from seven landscapes.

We conducted field surveys to collect data on prey abundances, local community dependencies on forest resources and their attitudes towards wildlife, and use remotely-sensed data to assess habitat size. We compute current and potential carrying capacity of the sites to support cheetah as well as assess the long-term viability of the introduced population, using Population Habitat Viability Analysis. Landscape of Kuno Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary (6,800 km2), with adjacent areas included, is rated high on the priority list for considering the reintroduction of the cheetah, because a lot of restorative investment has already been made here for introducing the Asiatic lions. The Protected Area was estimated to have a current capacity to sustain 27 cheetah and landscape can potentially hold over 70 individuals in future. The Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary (1197 km2) is part of a forested landscape of 5,500 km2 and the area could support 25 cheetah. We recommend the designation of 750 km2 as a core area of the sanctuary. The site could then support over 50 cheetah as a source population, while the Nauradehi landscape could harbour over 70 individuals. The Shahgarh landscape (4000 km2) on the international border in Jaisalmer was found to be suitable for introducing cheetah. This area could currently support about 15 cheetah and had the potential to sustain 40 cheetah with habitat management within the large fenced ecosystem. We propose to source cheetah from sites in Africa and collaboration with the Government of Iran and the world conservation community in assisting with the conservation of the Iranian cheetah.

The venture must be viewed not simply as an introduction of a species, however charismatic it may be, but as an endeavour to better manage and restore some of our most valuable yet most neglected ecosystems and the species dependent upon them.

Read funther and find the details in the Report from here or here

Citation: Ranjitsinh, M. K. & Jhala, Y. V. (2010) Assessing the potential for reintroducing the cheetah in India. Wildlife Trust of India, Noida, & Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, TR2010/001.

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