Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed the killing and extinction of cheetahs on Indian soil as "unfortunate," and said that no meaningful effort was made for decades to restore the big cats to the country.
The PM, who was speaking after releasing Namibian cheetahs into Kuno National Park in Sheopur district on Saturday, said that there was an opportunity to reconnect the centuries-old link of biodiversity that was broken, and became extinct decades ago.
“Today the cheetah has returned to the soil of India. And I would also say that along with these cheetahs, the nature-loving consciousness of India has also been awakened in full force”, said the PM.
He added that he would like to thank Namibia and the government there, with whose cooperation cheetahs returned to Indian soil.
He said, “It is unfortunate that we declared cheetahs extinct from the country in 1952 but for decades no meaningful effort was made to rehabilitate them. Today, in the Amritkal of Independence, the country has started to rehabilitate cheetahs with new energy.”
He said, “It is true that when nature and environment are protected, then our future is also secure. The avenues for growth and prosperity also open up.”
He said when cheetahs run again in Kuno National Park, the grassland ecosystem would be restored and biodiversity enriched.
He said that India was trying its best to rehabilitate these cheetahs, while following international guidelines.
However, he cautioned that, “We must not let our efforts fail. The countrymen will have to show patience and wait for a few months to see the cheetahs released in the Kuno National Park. Today, these cheetahs have come as guests, unaware of this area.”
He said that cheetahs needed a few months time to settle in Kuno National Park and make it their home.
For India, nature, environment, animals and birds were not subjects of just sustainability and security, he said: it was also the basis of our sensibility and spirituality.
Today, in the 21st century, India was giving a message to the whole world that economy and ecology were not conflicting fields, the PM said.
He said, “India has shown this to the world that along with protecting the environment, the progress of the country can also happen.”
Today, he said, 75 wetlands in the country had been declared as Ramsar sites, of which 26 sites were added in the last 4 years.
The effect of these efforts of the country will be visible for centuries to come, and will pave the way for progress, he added.
He said the target of doubling the number of tigers was achieved ahead of time. The existence of one-horned rhinoceros was once threatened in Assam, but today their numbers had also increased. The number of elephants had also increased to more than 30,000 in the last years, he added.
He said there had also been a big increase in the number of Asiatic lions here. Similarly, today Gujarat has emerged as the largest area of Asiatic lions in the country.
He said, “Decades of hard work, research-based policies and public participation have a big role behind this.”
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