Implications on relocation of cheetah and other animals

Implications on relocation of cheetah and other animals

Context

  • In 1952 – five years after the last three wild cheetahs fell to hunting – cheetahs were declared extinct in the country. Since then, there have been several calls to re-introduce the carnivore.
  • After decades, finally a solid plan for it took shape in 2009.
  • The Asiatic cheetah is found in the wild today only in Iran, which refused to entertain such a relocation. So, the plan turned its focus to Africa.
  • While in 2013 the Supreme Court rejected the idea to introduce what is essentially an alien species (the African cheetah), last year it gave its nod for the move. Among the areas identified for the “Project Cheetah” is the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh.

Is this the first?

  • The effort to re-introduce the cheetah, albeit the African species, is the first for an extinct mammal in the country.
  • Launched in 2005, the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 to address the issue of declining rhino population in the country. 
    • A large portion of the animals dominated Assam’s Kaziranga National Park. So, over 10 years, a few rhinos were moved to Manas National Park in the State. India- Home to 2,967 Tigers: Says Census Revealed on Global Tiger Day | Wildlife News
  • Project Tiger
    • Similarly, the relocation and introduction of another big cat – the tiger – too have been the focus for a while now. The Project Tiger Relocation was launched in 2018, and a male from Kanha Tiger Reserve and a female from Bandhavgarh from Madhya Pradesh were relocated to Satkosia Tiger Reserve in Odisha.  Relocation of Cheetah
  • Meanwhile, discussions have been going on for years about introducing the Asiatic lion – found in the wild today only in Gujarat’s Gir forest – to other areas.

Implications on relocation of cheetah and other animals

Advantages

  • Usually, it is threatened or endangered species (and, occasionally those extinct in the wild too) that are re-introduced in a region. This helps bring about a healthy, diverse, and thriving population over the years, giving hope to the species.
  • When a species is re-introduced, it may help improve its habitats or even an ecosystem. This becomes especially relevant when it is an apex predator at the top of a food chain containing herbivores and the vegetation these herbivores are dependent on.
  • Rare and endangered species have the potential to improve tourism by bringing in more discerning visitors. This also means more awareness among adults and children about the need to conserve wildlife and their habitats.

Disadvantages

  • Globally, and especially in India, many wildlife species are in dire straits due to several reasons, including climate change, human activity, infrastructure development, etc. In such a scenario, it is prudent to channel human power and funds to conserve threatened species rather than to the re-introduction of species.
  • There have been instances that suggest enough sensitivity, research, and planning have not gone into introduction plans, resulting in precious loss of animal lives. As for the cheetah re-introduction, many conservationists have raised concerns over the lack of prey base and adequate space for a carnivore that thrives in grasslands.

Back to basics

About Cheetah

  • Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is a large cat native to Africa and Central Iran.
  • It is the fastest land animal which is capable of running at 80 to 128 km/h.
  • Cheetah was declared extinct from India in 1952 and is considered the only large mammal that has gone extinct since the country’s independence.
  • Protection Status:
    • IUCN Red List: ‘Vulnerable’
    • CITES: Appendix I 

About Tiger

  • Scientific Name: Panthera tigris
  • Indian Sub Species: Panthera tigris tigris.
  • Habitat: It stretches from Siberian temperate forests to subtropical and tropical forests on the Indian subcontinent and Sumatra.
  • It is the largest cat species and a member of the genus Panthera.
  • Traditionally eight subspecies of tigers have been recognized, out of which three are extinct.
    • Bengal Tigers: Indian Subcontinent
    • Caspian tiger: Turkey through central and west Asia (extinct).
    • Amur tiger: Amur Rivers region of Russia and China, and North Korea
    • Javan tiger: Java, Indonesia (extinct).
    • South China tiger: South central China.
    • Bali tiger: Bali, Indonesia (extinct).
    • Sumatran tiger: Sumatra, Indonesia.
    • Indo-Chinese tiger: Continental south-east Asia.
  • Protection Status:
    • Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I
    • IUCN Red List: Endangered.
    • CITES: Appendix I.
  • According to the Tiger Census Report, 2019, the Tiger population has substantially increased from 2,226 in 2014 to around 2,967 in 2019.
    • Madhya Pradesh saw the highest number of tigers (526) followed by Karnataka (524) and Uttarakhand (442).

About Asiatic lion

  • Asiatic lions were once distributed to the state of West Bengal in east and Rewa in Madhya Pradesh, in central India.
  • At present Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is the only abode of the Asiatic lion.
  • Protection Status:
    • IUCN Red List: Endangered
    • CITES: Appendix I
    • Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972: Schedule I
  • The Greater One-Horned Rhino is one among the five different species of Rhino. The other four are:
    • Black Rhino: Smaller of the two African species.
    • White Rhino: Recently, researchers have created an embryo of the northern white rhino by using In vitro Fertilization (IVF) process.
    • Javan Rhino: Critically endangered in IUCN Red List.
    • Sumatran Rhino: Recently gone extinct in Malaysia.
  • There are three species of rhino in AsiaGreater one-horned (Rhinoceros unicornis), Javan and Sumatran.
  • Only the Great One-Horned Rhino is found in India.
  • Protection Status:
    • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable.
    • CITES: Appendix I 
    • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I

Source; TH


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