INDIA has rejected three of the cheetahs translocated from Namibia last month.
This comes after Namibia agreed to translocate eight cheetahs to India, following the signing of an agreement by the two countries on wildlife conservation and sustainable biodiversity utilisation.
Cheetahs were officially declared extinct in India in 1952.
According to The Times of India on Friday, the cheetahs were to be translocated to India’s Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh.
The Times of India reported that India rejected the cheetahs because they were captive-bred and could not hunt.
The newspaper reported that during a recent visit to Namibia by the dean of the Wildlife Institute of India, Yadvendradev Vikramsinh Jhala, it was found that the three will be replaced by wild-caught cheetahs.
Contacted for a comment, Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism spokesperson Romeo Muyunda said the ministry is aware of the three rejected cheetahs.
“We deny such allegations and claims given by India. The cheetahs are not captive animals. They were captured when they were young and were exposed to hunting,” Muyunda said.
“It is so unfortunate that the three were rejected, but India has interest in the five others. We will not give them cheetahs anymore to replace the three rejected ones, as we do not want to compromise on our cheetah population,” Muyunda said.
The three cheetahs will be returned to Namibia, and will be reintroduced to the wild, although they will require some monitoring.
“As a government, we were not involved in the selection of these cheetahs, they were selected by the Cheetah Conservation Fund of Namibia at Otjiwarongo,” he said.
The fund assured the ministry that the cheetahs were not captive, he said.
“The ones we gave apparently cannot hunt for themselves but can only be fed, and they want the ones that can hunt for themselves,” Muyunda said.