A massacre in India between Modi’s leopards. The dream of resettlement is fading

A massacre in India between Modi’s leopards.  The dream of resettlement is fading

LONDON – India’s animal symbol is the tiger, which has chosen it Rudyard To one of the heroes of his novel “The Jungle Book” alongside the bear, tiger, snake and baby Mowgli. In the forest narrated by the great writer in time British RajHowever, as this formidable country was called at the time of the British Empire, the cheetah also ran. They became one of the favorite prey of white hunters, so much so that when in 1948 Gandhi put an end to the colonial era, gaining independence, the magnificent spotted cats became completely extinct.

In the year 2022 PM Narendra Modi He was personally set free in a forest Kono National Park, a natural enclave of 5,000 square kilometers, the first of eight cheetahs imported from Africa, which rose to twenty a few months later, and he officially chose his birthday to celebrate the event as another example of the national revival undertaken by his government, which aspires to return India to glory pre-colonial. But a year later, the resettlement of cheetahs seems to be in crisis, if not a failure: dozens of animals have died, and to save the survivors, it was necessary to move them to a protected fenced area and the program is being criticized from all sides.

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Causes of death

Various factors kill them: malnutrition, infections fueled by monsoons, large animals such as leopards and bears, or hyenas moving in herds in the same area, poachers taking care of their fur, farmers angry because leopards attack their sheep. Fears of this kind have been rife among naturalists and conservationists since the announcement of the “Cheetah Project’, where the resettlement program is called (translating cheetah in English).

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Some warn that it has been difficult to reintroduce the cheetah into a habitat that was altered a century ago. Others point out that there are other endangered species in India that it would be better to focus efforts and resources on. Some argue that the cheetah, although found in various regions of Asia in the distant past, ceased to be a native species when India became a colony. British Empire and that the English colonists reintroduced it simply for the pleasure of hunting it: mainly to exterminate it again (although between 1500 and 1850 the taming of cheetahs helped the real hunters). Finally, there are protests because entire villages have been moved to expand the area reserved for leopards.

criticism of Modi

Today, therefore, many criticize MethodsAsserting that in his campaign for the return of the Indian leopard, he ignored the opinion of the experts, and instead listened to his doctors, the Peiris who help him use all means to glorify populist Hindu nationalism. He accuses him of “the government putting vanity over science” Jeram Ramesha former Environment Minister of the Congress Party, the main opposition party, was also one of the initiators of the project when it was in power.

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There is no shortage of those who continue to support the program. Says Yadvendradev Jhala, former director of Wildlife Institute of India, a conservation society that helped set up the project but was later rejected, “The whole world is watching us, and we just can’t afford to fail.” Optimists point out that cheetah relocation will have a positive impact on the Indian ecosystem and could inspire similar programs in other countries, cautioning that patience is required: it has been predicted that about half of cheetahs will not survive relocation and that it will take time to make Its population reaches a fixed number of at least 40 samples. Pessimists counter that even previous attempts to resettle the cheetah to other African countries, and to import it from Namibia (as India has also done), have not yielded good results. The fastest cat on Earth, capable of running up to 100 kilometers per hour, is a fastidious animal: getting it to move from one country to another, or even worse, from one continent to another, is difficult. For now, however, Prime Minister Modi is not backing down from the ambitious and costly task of trying to rewrite The Jungle Book, so to speak, adding the cheetah to the tiger Shere Khan, the tiger Bagheera, the bear Balu, and the python Ka. .

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