Pulling up the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) for its ambitious plan to introduce African Cheetahs into Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh, the Supreme Court on Monday quashed it calling the proposal “arbitrary” and “illegal”.
The order is a setback for MoEF, which was ambitiously pursuing the plan to introduce African Cheetah into India’s wild.
The bench of justice KS Radhakrishnan and Chandramauli Kr Prasad, in their order, said that the “top priority is to protect Asiatic lions, an endangered species and to provide a second home”.
“Various steps have been taken for the last few decades, but nothing transpired so far.
Crores of rupees have been spent by the Government of India and the state of Madhya Pradesh for re-introduction of Asiatic lion to Kuno. At this stage, in our view, the decision taken by MoEF for introduction of African Cheetahs first to Kuno and then Asiatic lion, is arbitrary an illegal and clear violation of the statutory requirements provided under the Wildlife Protection Act,” the bench observed.
Under the ambitious Rs 300 crore plan, the MoEF had proposed introduction of African cheetahs into Kuno by importing them from Namibia. But the plan got stuck after the top court stayed it in May 2012.
Cheetah was wiped out of India more than half a century ago due to reasons like hunting.
Cheetahs can run faster than any other land animal at a speed of more than 100 km per hour.
The reintroduction of cheetah was cleared by the union cabinet. The first batch of cheetahs from Namibia was to reach India by mid-2012 and was to be introduced in Kuno Palpur wildlife sanctuary.