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Project Cheetah update: Flight from Namibia to land in Gwalior on September 17

A charter cargo flight operating a Boeing 747 with a special tiger livery will now land at Gwalior airport in Namibia on September 15 to bring back the Cheetah to India after 70 years under the Cheetah Project. Project Cheetah chief SP Yadav said the flight was earlier supposed to land in Jaipur on September 17. From Gwalior, an IAF-operated Boeing Chinook helicopter will take the cheetah to the Kuno National Park in Sheopur. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release the cheetahs at their new home in Madhya Pradesh on his birthday on September 17.

The Cheetah Re-introduction Project is a first of its kind intercontinental mission under which a total of eight Namibian cheetahs will be brought back to Indian territory after more than 70 years of extinction. Five female and three male cheetahs will leave for India in a customized Boeing 747-400 jumbo aircraft from Namibian capital Windhoek, traveling through the night and reaching Gwalior on the morning of Saturday 17 September.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release eight cheetahs being brought from Namibia to Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh. Large carnivores were completely wiped out from India, as they were used for travel, game hunting, over-hunting and habitat loss. The Indian High Commission in Windhoek tweeted, “A special bird touches the land of the brave to carry goodwill ambassadors to the land of the tiger.”

The government declared the cheetah extinct in the country in 1952. In the 1970s, the Indian government signed an agreement with Namibia, which has been donating, due to efforts to re-establish the species in its historical ranges in the country. The first eight individuals to start a cheetah reintroduction program on July 20 this year.

They will then be taken by helicopter to their new home – Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh. According to the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), an international non-profit organization headquartered in Namibia and dedicated to saving cheetahs in the wild, five female cheetahs are between two and five years old, and male cheetahs aged from 4.5 years. Between 5.5 years.

cheetah flight safety

According to the CCF, aircraft bringing cheetahs to India have been modified to allow cages to be secured in the main cabin, but will still allow veterinarians full access to cats during the flight. The aircraft is an ultra-long range jet capable of flying up to 16 hours and hence can fly directly from Namibia to India without refueling, an important consideration for the well being of the cheetahs, it said.

Eight officers and experts will oversee Namibian cheetahs during the mission, including India’s High Commissioner to Namibia Prashant Agarwal, Project Cheetah Chief Scientist Yadvendradev Vikramsinh Jhala and Dean of the Wildlife Institute of India; Sanath Krishna Mulia, Veterinarian, Union Environment Ministry; Laurie Marker, CCF Founder and Executive Director; Eli Walker, CCF conservation biologist and cheetah specialist; Barthelemy Batalli, CCF Data Manager and Ana Basto, CCF Veterinarian.

With input from agencies

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