Eight cheetahs will travel from Namibia to Jaipur, Rajasthan, and then another hour to reach Kuno-Palpur National Park in Bhopal, according to JS Chauhan, the principal chief conservator of forests for Madhya Pradesh. On September 17, between 6am and 7am the cheetahs will arrive in India by cargo plane in the capital of Rajasthan. From there, they will be transferred to a helicopter and carried to the Kuno National Park in Bhopal. According to a senior forest department official, the wild cats will have to spend their entire air transit period empty stomach.
The animals would be secured in cages, which will be kept in the main cabin of the aircraft, and veterinary staff would be allowed to have full access to the cats during the flight. The aircraft is an ultra-long-range jet capable of flying up to 16 hours, so it can fly directly from Namibia to India without a stop to refuel, an important consideration for the well-being of the cheetah.
The cheetahs will be first kept in small enclosures for a month and then in bigger ones for a couple of months for acclimatization and familiarisation with surroundings. Later, they will be released in the wild. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release three of these cheetahs into the park’s quarantine enclosures on September 17, on his birthday, as part of the cheetah reintroduction programme, seven decades after the animal became extinct in India.
The ambitious Cheetah re-introduction plan is seen as a big boost to overall growth of the species.