Endangered cheetahs can return to Indian forests – court

BBC News

India’s top court has said cheetahs can be reintroduced in the country, 70 years after they were wiped out.

Responding to a plea by the government, the Supreme Court said African cheetahs could be introduced to the wild in a “carefully chosen location”.

Cheetahs are an endangered species, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).

Only 7,100 cheetahs are left in the wild, almost all of them in Africa.

The Asiatic cheetah, which once roamed parts of India, is now only found in Iran, where there are thought to be about 50 left.

India’s Supreme Court said the animal would have to be introduced on an experimental basis to find out if it could adapt to Indian conditions.

Studies show that at least 200 cheetahs were killed in India, largely by sheep and goat herders, during the colonial period. It is the only large mammal to become extinct after the country gained independence in 1947.

India’s former environment minister Jairam Ramesh welcomed the decision to reintroduce the animal.

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