x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Plan to re-introduce cheetahs in India with African species is 'totally misconceived'

India's Supreme Court halts plan to ship cheetahs from Africa, noting that the Asiatic cheetah is completely different.

NEW DELHI // India's Supreme Court has halted a plan to re-introduce cheetahs to the country by shipping animals over from Africa after experts said the idea was "totally misconceived".

The environment ministry had cleared the 3 billion rupee (Dh206 million) project, which involved moving African cheetahs from Namibia to a wildlife sanctuary in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

But court-appointed adviser PS Narasimha said: "Studies show that African cheetahs and Asian cheetahs are completely different, both genetically and also in their characteristics."

He told the court on Tuesday: "The African cheetah obviously never existed in India," adding the International Union for Conservation of Nature clearly warned against the introduction of alien species.

The Asiatic cheetah was once common on the plains of India but was hunted close to extinction during the British colonial era before disappearing in the 1950s.

About 100 are thought to survive in Iran.