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Special plane lands in Namibia to get African Cheetahs; PM Modi to release 'goodwill ambassadors' in MP's Kuno National Park

They will then be flown to their new home Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh in helicopters

Special plane lands in Namibia to get African Cheetahs; PM Modi to release goodwill ambassadors in MPs Kuno National Park

As part of the first-of-its-kind transcontinental mission, a special plane landed in Namibia to get a total of eight Namibian Cheetahs back to Indian territory after being extinct for over 70 years.

Five female and three male cheetahs will head for India in a customized Boeing 747-400 jumbo aircraft from Namibia's capital Windhoek, travelling overnight and reaching Jaipur on the morning of Saturday, September 17.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release eight cheetahs being brought from Namibia into the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh on his birthday on September 17.

The large carnivore got completely wiped out from India due to their use for coursing, sport hunting, overhunting, and habitat loss.

The government declared the cheetah extinct in the country in 1952.

Starting in the 1970s, the efforts of the Indian government to re-establish the species in its historical ranges in the country led to the signing of a pact with Namibia, which is donating the first eight individuals to launch the Cheetah reintroduction programme, on July 20 this year.

They will then be flown to their new home Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh in helicopters.

According to the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), an international not-for-profit organisation headquartered in Namibia and dedicated to saving the cheetah in the wild, the five female cheetahs are aged between two years and five years, and the male cheetahs are aged between 4.5 years and 5.5 years.

According to the CCF, the aircraft bringing the cheetahs to India has been modified to allow cages to be secured in the main cabin but will still allow vets to have full access to the cats during the flight.

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The aircraft is an ultra-long range jet capable of flying for up to 16 hours and so can fly directly from Namibia to India without a stop to refuel, an important consideration for the well-being of the cheetahs, it said.

The mission has been designated as a 'Flagged Expedition' by the Explorers Club, an American-based international multidisciplinary professional society to promote scientific exploration.

Eight officials and experts will oversee the Namibian cheetahs during the mission, including Prashant Agrawal, High Commissioner of India to Namibia, Yadvendradev Vikramsinh Jhala, chief scientist for Project Cheetah and Dean of Wildlife Institute of India; Sanath Krishna Muliya, 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.

At the KNP, the prime minister will release the cheetahs, aged four to six years, into smaller quarantine enclosures where they will be kept for 30 days. They will then be released in a six-sq km predator-proof holding facility with nine compartments.

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