Supreme Court Asks For Task Force Experts' Qualifications After Cheetah's Death
The Supreme Court has sought information on the experts in the Cheetah Task Force, including their qualifications and experience, after a Namibian cheetah died due to illness at a national park in Madhya Pradesh.
Sasha, a female cheetah aged four and a half years, died of a kidney ailment over six months after being translocated from Namibia to Kuno National Park (KNP) with seven other big cats.
The Supreme Court bench of justices B R Gavai and Vikram Nath swung into action after Senior Advocate Prashanto Chandra Sen claimed that the task force appointed by the Environment Ministry “did not have a single member with expertise in cheetah management," a Live Law report said.
The matter up came up when the apex court was hearing the Centre's plea requesting that it should no longer be obligatory for the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to seek advice from the expert committee appointed by the top court in 2020.
A three-member panel consisting of former director of wildlife protection M K Ranjit Sinh, chief conservator of forests, wildlife administration in Uttarakhand, Dhananjai Mohan, and the DIG (Wildlife) of the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change was appointed by the top court to lead the NTCA in bringing African cheetahs to India.
Sen, appearing for a non-governmental organisation, claimed that the Cheetah Task Force lacks a cheetah expert.
He suggested that the NTCA should collaborate with the court-appointed expert committee for the cheetah re-introduction project, especially in the beginning.
India lost a cheetah and need experienced cheetah managers, he argued.
Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati said that the government has a scientific plan to reintroduce cheetahs in India, prepared in consultation with experts.
The bench scheduled the matter for two weeks later and requested Bhati for information on cheetah experts in the task force.
The Centre has said it plans to bring in eight to 14 cheetahs from African countries annually for at least the next five years. India is working with Namibia and South Africa for the translocation of cheetahs.
On 17 September 2022, eight cheetahs were successfully relocated from Namibia to India. The animals were released into quarantine enclosures in Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh.
Later, 12 cheetahs — seven males and five females — were moved from South Africa to KNP on 18 February 2023.
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