Siblings Freddy and Alton, two of the eight cheetahs brought from Namibia, were seen frolicking in their quarantine enclosure in Madhya Pradesh's Kuno National Park on Monday, a day after all of them were served food for the first time since their arrival in India. Sisters Savannah and Sasha also looked cheerful. The four other cheetahs – Obaan, Asha, Cibili, Saisa – also appeared in good spirits, KNP officials said.
The eight felines - five female and three male and aged between 30 to 66 months- were on Sunday evening served food for the first time since their arrival from the African country to India on Saturday, an official said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday released these cheetahs brought from Namibia, 8,000 km away from their native place, into a quarantine enclosure at the KNP in Sheopur district as part of a project to revive the population of the animal, which became extinct in India in 1952.
On Sunday evening, each of the eight cheetahs was served two kg of buffalo meat. Only one of them ate less, the official said, adding that there was nothing concerning about it. The cheetahs looked cheerful and active on Monday, said the official who is part of the team keeping a close watch on the movements of the animals. These animals are believed to take food once in three days, he added.
The new guests are still observing the new surroundings with curiosity, the official said. On Monday morning, Freddy and Alton were seen running in a playful mood and drinking water often in their enclosure. The eight cheetahs were given their names in Namibia. “Right now we don't have plans to rename them,” the official said. At the time of their release on Saturday, the big cats looked hesitant. But the initial hesitation appeared to be gradually fading on Monday, he said. Asked about the Hindi name of a female cheetah 'Asha', which means hope, he said it seemed an Indian official might have written it on its cage while the big cats were being brought here.
Veterinarians and experts from India and Namibia are keeping a close watch on the cheetahs in the quarantine enclosure where they will be kept for a month, he added. In his speech after releasing cheetahs, PM Modi had on Saturday cautioned that they need time to get used to their new surroundings before people can see them in the wild. “Cheetahs are our guests; we should give them a few months to make Kuno National Park their home,” he said. The KNP, spread over an area of 750 sq km, is situated on the northern side of Vindhyachal mountains.