“I am sure, these cheetahs will not only make us aware of our responsibilities towards nature but will also make us aware of our human values and traditions,’ PM Modi said
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday released wild Cheetahs – which had become extinct in India – in Kuno National Park.
Cheetahs – brought from Namibia – are being introduced in India under Project Cheetah, the world’s first inter-continental large wild carnivore translocation project, read a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
PM Modi released Cheetahs at two release points in Kuno National Park and interacted with Cheetah Mitras, Cheetah Rehabilitation Management Group and students at the venue.
In his address to the nation, the prime minister expressed gratitude by highlighting the handful of opportunities that give humanity a chance to rectify the past and build a new future. Modi mentioned that we have one such moment in front of us today. “Decades ago, the age-old link of biodiversity that was broken and became extinct, today we have a chance to restore it”, he said, “Today the cheetah has returned to the soil of India.”
He underlined that this monumental occasion has led to the nature-loving consciousness of India being awakened with full force. He congratulated all the countrymen on this occasion while making a special mention of Namibia and its government with whose cooperation, the cheetahs have returned to Indian soil after decades.
“I am sure, these cheetahs will not only make us aware of our responsibilities towards nature but will also make us aware of our human values and traditions”, he said.
Taking note of Azadi ka Amritkaal, Modi recalled the ‘Panch Pran’ and highlighted the importance of ‘taking pride in our heritage’ and ‘liberation from the mentality of slavery’. He said, “When we are away from our roots, we tend to lose a lot.”
He further recalled that in the last centuries, the exploitation of nature was considered to be a symbol of power and modernity. “In 1947, when only the last three cheetahs were left in the country, they too were hunted mercilessly and irresponsibly in the Sal forests,” he added.
The PM remarked that even though cheetahs had become extinct from India in 1952, no meaningful effort was made to rehabilitate them for the past seven decades. He expressed elation that in the Azadi Ka Amit Mahotsav, the country has started to rehabilitate cheetahs with new energy. “Amrit has the power to revive even the dead,” Modi remarked.
The prime minister added that this elixir of duty and faith in the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is not just reviving our heritage, but now cheetahs have also set foot on the soil of India.
Drawing everyone’s attention to the years of hard work that went behind making this rehabilitation successful, he said that the utmost energy was deployed for an area that is not given too much political importance. He mentioned that a detailed Cheetah Action Plan was prepared while our talented scientists conducted extensive research, working closely with South African and Namibian experts. He added that scientific surveys were conducted across the country to locate the most suitable area for cheetahs, and then Kuno National Park was chosen for this auspicious start. “Today, our hard work is in front of us as a result,” he added.
Modi reiterated that when nature and the environment are protected, our future becomes secure and the avenues for growth and prosperity open up. He added that when the cheetahs sprint in Kuno National Park, the grassland eco-system will be restored and it will also lead to an increase in biodiversity. He highlighted that employment opportunities will increase as a result of the growing eco-tourism in the area thereby opening up new possibilities for development.
Prime Minister Modi made a request to all the countrymen to act with patience and wait for a few months to witness the cheetahs released in Kuno National Park. “Today these cheetahs have come as guests, and are unaware of this area… For these cheetahs to be able to make Kuno National Park their home, we have to give them a few months’ time,” he said.
He stressed that international guidelines are being followed and India is trying its best to settle these cheetahs. “We must not allow our efforts to fail”, he added.
PM Modi pointed out that today when the world looks at nature and the environment, it talks about sustainable development. “For India, nature and environment, its animals and birds, are not just about sustainability and security but the basis of India’s sensibility and spirituality”, he said.
“We are taught to care about even the smallest creatures living around us. Our traditions are such that if the life of a living being goes away without any reason, then we are filled with guilt. Then how can we accept that the existence of an entire species is lost because of us?”, he added.
He added that today cheetahs are found in some countries of Africa, and in Iran, however, India’s name was removed from that list long ago. “Children will not have to go through this irony in the years to come. I am sure, they will be able to see the cheetah running in their own country, in Kuno National Park. Today a big void in our forest and life is being filled through the cheetah”, Modi said.
The Prime Minister remarked that the India of the 21st century is giving a message to the whole world that economy and ecology are not conflicting fields. He said that India is a living and breathing example that economic progress of the country can take place along with protecting the environment. “Today, on one hand, we are included in the fastest growing economies of the world, at the same time the forest areas of the country are also expanding rapidly”, the Prime Minister pointed out.
Throwing light on the work carried out by the government, the Prime Minister said that since the formation of the government in 2014, about 250 new protected areas have been added in the country. There has also been a big increase in the number of Asiatic lions here and Gujarat has emerged as a dominating sphere of Asiatic lions in the country.
“Decades of hard work, research-based policies and public participation have a big role behind this”, Modi said. “I remember, we took a pledge in Gujarat – we will increase respect for wild animals, and reduce conflict. Today the effect of that thinking is before us as a result.”
The Prime Minister further pointed out that we have achieved the target of doubling the number of tigers ahead of time. He recalled when the existence of one-horned rhinoceros was in danger in Assam, but today their number has also gone up. The number of elephants has also increased to more than 30 thousand in the last few years.
Modi also pointed out the work done to preserve the flora and fauna of India in the expansion of wetlands. He said that the life and needs of crores of people all over the world are dependent on wetland ecology. “Today 75 wetlands in the country have been declared as Ramsar sites, of which 26 sites have been added in the last 4 years”, the Prime Minister remarked, “The effect of these efforts of the country will be visible for centuries to come, and will pave new paths for progress.”
The Prime Minister also drew everyone’s attention to the global issues that India is addressing today. He reiterated the need to analyse global problems, their solutions and even our lives in a holistic way. Mentioning the mantra of LiFE i.e., Lifestyle for the Environment for the world, and the efforts of the International Solar Alliance, the Prime Minister said that India is giving a platform to the world. The success of these efforts will decide the direction and future of the world.
Modi stressed that the time has arrived when we need to assess global challenges as our own individual challenges and a small change in our lives can become a basis for the future of the whole earth. “I am sure that India’s efforts and traditions will guide the entire humanity in this direction, and give strength to the dream of a better world”, the Prime Minister concluded.