India cancels plan to reintroduce cheetahs

May 9, 2012 at 3:51 PM
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NEW DELHI, May 9 (UPI) -- India's Supreme Court has ordered a halt to a government plan to reintroduce the cheetah, wiped out in India by hunting nearly a century ago.

The government had approved wildlife groups' recommendations of two sanctuaries, in Madhya Pradesh and an area in Rajasthan, as potential homes but the court ordered a suspension in the plans after testimony from experts called them "totally misconceived," the BBC reported Wednesday.

The proposal to reintroduce the cheetah by importing the cats from Africa had not been discussed with the National Board for Wildlife, the body that enforces wildlife laws in India, a lawyer told the court.

P.S. Narasimha said the proposal to reintroduce the cheetah went against the guidelines on translocation of wildlife species laid down by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

"Scientific studies show that the African cheetahs and Asian cheetahs are completely different, both genetically and also in their characteristics," he said.

Without restoring habitat and prey-bases, and without efforts to reduce the chances of human-cheetah conflict, viable cheetah populations would not flourish, critics of the plan said.

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