The court has expressed serious concern about the death of cheetahs and urged the Centre to prioritise the relocation to Rajasthan, setting aside political considerations.
However, this directive raises questions about whether Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve (MHTR) in Rajasthan is adequately prepared to host cheetahs. The tiger relocation plan in MHTR failed in the past, and it is crucial to carefully assess if the reserve can accommodate cheetahs successfully.
A wildlife expert who wished not to be quoted said, “In South Africa, cheetahs thrive in a stable socio-spatial system with widely dispersed territories and densities of less than one individual per 100 km². The fenced area in MHTR covers only 80 square kilometre which may lead to conflicts if the cheetahs are released and their population grows without sufficient space.”
Renowned experts assert that the MHTR region is ill-suited for cheetahs primarily due to its abundant tall grasslands and waterbodies. These environmental features contrast sharply with the preferred habitat of these wild cats.
A senior forest official said, “There is no correspondence happening between the state and the Centre now to bring cheetahs to Rajasthan.”