India rolls out species recovery program to establish viable carnivore metapopulation

Via the Newsmeter network Published on August 11, 2022 02:56 GMT
`Save Cheetah: India rolls out species recovery program to establish viable carnivore metapopulation

India rolled out the Save Cheetah plan to prevent the extinction of large carnivores. The government plans to establish a viable metapopulation of cheetahs in India that allows the cheetah to fulfill its functional role as a top predator and provide space for expansion within its historic range, thereby contributing to its global conservation efforts.

The plan includes establishing a breeding population of cheetahs in secure habitats across its historic range and managing them as a metapopulation. It also aims to use the cheetah as a charismatic flagship and umbrella species to garner resources to restore open forest and savannah systems that will benefit biodiversity and ecosystem services.

The government also wants to enhance India’s ability to sequester carbon through ecosystem restoration activities in cheetah conservation areas and thereby contribute to global climate change mitigation goals. He also wants to use the ensuing opportunity for eco-development and eco-tourism to improve the livelihoods of local communities.

It also plans to quickly manage conflicts between cheetahs or other wildlife with local communities in cheetah conservation areas through compensation, awareness and management actions to gain community support.

Cheetah introduction is not just a species recovery program, but an effort to restore ecosystems with a lost element that has played an important role in their evolutionary history, allowing ecosystems to provide services to their full potential and using the cheetah as an umbrella species to conserve biodiversity in grasslands, savannahs and open forest systems.

Cheetah is a Sanskrit word that is mentioned in ancient texts including Vedas and Puranas. It is indeed ironic that the species is currently extinct in India. The initial threats that led to cheetah extinction have been mitigated and India now has the technical and financial capacity to bring back its lost natural heritage for ethical, ecological and economic considerations.

Successful conservation introductions are a blend of the best science, technology, sociological aspects and commitment of financial resources. These aspects are integrated into this action plan based on the modern scientific approach recommended by the latest International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) guidelines for reintroduction and other conservation transfers, providing the framework to bring the charismatic cheetah back to India.

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