Developed as another home for cheetahs, Gandhi Sagar sanctuary in MP ready to welcome felines

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Mandsaur (MP), Feb 7 (PTI) Madhya Pradesh, which currently hosts 21 cheetahs at the Kuno National Park (KNP), is ready to welcome a new batch of the spotted felines as the second such facility has been developed at the Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary in Mandsaur district of the state.

This new home for cheetahs is located around 270 km from the KNP in Sheopur district.

Forest department officials said the Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary is ready to welcome cheetahs and all preparations for the introduction of these animals have been completed.

"This new home for cheetahs, which is spread over 64 square kilometres of area, has been developed in Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary at a cost of Rs 17.72 crore," Mandsaur's Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Sanjay Raikheda said.

This area is protected with a wired fence, he said.

"The sanctuary is ready to welcome cheetahs and all preparations for their introduction have been completed," he added.

Raikheda, however, said the decision on the time and other formalities regarding the settlement of cheetahs in this sanctuary will be taken by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

"About 25 employees and officials posted at the Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary and the forest department have already received training required for monitoring and taking care of cheetahs from the KNP," the official said.

A hospital is also being constructed to provide medical services to cheetahs, he said.

A team of veterinarians from the KNP is soon visiting the sanctuary to provide guidance regarding the construction of the hospital, he said.

Raikheda said prey is available for cheetahs in Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary in abundance.

"There are many animals, including chitals (spotted deer), that are available in large numbers in the sanctuary," the DFO said.

A new batch of cheetahs is likely to arrive from South Africa at this sanctuary, he said.

Cheetah, the fastest land animal, was declared extinct in the country in 1952. The relocation of cheetahs from Africa is part of the government's ambitious plan to revive their population in India.

Under the Cheetah Reintroduction Project, eight Namibian cheetahs - five female and three male - were released into enclosures at the KNP on September 17 in 2022. In February 2023, another batch of12 cheetahs were brought to the park from South Africa.

Since March 2023, seven adult cheetahs and three cubs have died in the KNP due to various reasons. The total number of cheetahs at the KNP currently stands at 21 - six males, seven females and eight cubs. PTI COR ADU NP