The highest court in India is working to stop the government from importing cheetahs, according to media reports. Lawyers argued they saw a violation of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) guidelines.
The apex court’s injunction against the ‘Cheetah in India’ project came last week, according to the Egypt-based news site BikyaMasr. The stay order issued by the court follows the call of amicus curiae PS Narasimha and P Parameshwar for taking notice of the proposed project by the Environment and Forest Ministry of the country. The reasons against the project, as provided by the lawyers seeking the halt, include violation of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) guidelines and lack of approval by the National Wildlife Board.
The lawyers going to the court against the ‘Cheetah in India’ project took the stance that the cheetah project including only one sanctuary in the state of Madhya Pradesh and carries a huge budget of $2.4 million as against the more far-reaching tiger project which includes some 600 sanctuaries and has a budget of $16 million. They also reasoned that the African cheetahs intended for importing to India were completely different from Asian cheetahs that lived in India and became extinct by the mid 1950s. BBC notes that some experts called the cheetah-importing project a “totally misconceived” plan.
Originally conceived in 2009, the project for importing cheetahs was budgeted at $6 million, as reported in Los Angeles Times, and planned to bring 18 wild cheetahs from South Africa and Namibia to India. However, as the LA Times blog wrote, experts had their doubts about the viability of the project given that despite the expensive protection efforts, the population of tigers had dropped alarmingly in the country.