The landing location of the special cargo plane carrying the eight cheetahs has been changed from Jaipur in Rajasthan to Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, authorities said a day before their scheduled arrival.
These cheetahs will be flown to Gwalior early Saturday morning, where they will be transferred in a special helicopter to the Kuno National Park (KNP) in Madhya Pradesh's Sheopur district, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release three of them into the park's quarantine enclosures.
The special jet carrying these animals was supposed to land in Jaipur from the African country, whence they would be taken to the KNP.
Speaking to the media, the principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) wildlife, J S Chauhan, said, "The cheetahs will arrive in Gwalior and from there they will be flown in a special helicopter to the KNP."
The eight cheetahs including five females and three males will be brought from Namibia's capital Windhoek to Gwalior airport in a customized Boeing 747-400 aircraft, officials have said earlier. Chauhan confirmed that the cheetahs from Gwalior would be transported to the KNP helipad in an Indian Air Force (IAF) Chinook heavy-lift chopper.
According to the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), an international non-profit organisation based in Namibia committed to protecting the cheetah in the wild, the five female cheetahs are aged between two and five years and the male cheetahs are aged between 4.5 years and 5.5 years.
The last cheetah in India died in 1947 in the Korea district in present-day Chhattisgarh, which was earlier part of Madhya Pradesh, and the species was declared extinct from India in 1952.
The 'African Cheetah Introduction Project in India' was conceived in 2009 and a plan to introduce the big cat by November last year in KNP suffered a setback due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.
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