After extending Kuno area by 500 sqkm, cheetahs to be active in sprawling 1,249 sqkm
By Ankita Garg
Giving a gift on completion of a year in the country to the cheetahs, a total of 500 sqkm of area has been added up to the Kuno National Park (KNP). Now, cheetahs would have more space to be active in wild. Madhya Pradesh Forest Department is all set to celebrate the Cheetah Re-Introduction Day in India on September 17 with grandeur. On the day last year, eight cheetahs were brought from Namibia (2022) and released into Kuno National Park enclosure. To mark the day Union Forest and Environment Minister Bhupendra Singh Yadav and other senior officials of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) will be visiting Kuno. Earlier, a big forest land, encompassing over 550 square kilometre that was earlier conserved for Madhavrao Scindia Sanctuary, was proposed to be added to the Kuno National Park, making it safe habitat and adequate space for the cheetah. The addition of forest land provides sufficient space to the cheetah for territory formation and killing prey. The original area of KNP as notified was 749 sq km and through of 550 sq km, it is now going to enjoy a sprawling 1,249 sq km area.
The 50 acres of forest land is situated between Madhav National Park in Shivpuri district and KNP was conserved to be developed as Madhavrao Scindia Wildlife Sanctuary. Concerned over the need of vast area for cheetah in Kuno, Government has decided to add the land in Kuno’s periphery. The proposal to develop Madhavrao Scindia Sanctuary is postponed as of now. According to reports, in January 2022, 19,279 hectare of forest land was identified for developing the sanctuary. As the area does not include any village, officials found it suitable for the big cats’ habitat. Proposal for the same was sent to the Government on September 16, 2019. Talking to ‘The Hitavada’ DFO Prakash Verma said, “500 sqkm of area has been added in Kuno’s periphery. Preparation is going on to celebrate the one year of cheetah re-introduction plan in a grand way. Senior authorities, politicians and NTCA officials will be attending the programme.” He further said that effort is being made to provide adequate space to cheetahs. In future cheetahs will be released into wild and then they need vast space.
DFO Verma further informed that currently there are 14 adults and one cub at KNP. As monsoon period is underway, all cheetahs are in an enclosure and medical team is keeping an eye on their health. Regular health check-up is being conducted on cheetah. Team has suggested to release them back to wild in October after monsoon gets over. The DFO said that after adding this forest, a corridor will be developed connecting Kuno National Park, Shivpuri jungle and Rajasthan’s Ranthambore as all these places come under 200 km of area.