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(CNN) India’s environment minister announced Wednesday that more than 70 years after cheetahs were officially declared extinct in India, the country is now home to four newborn cheetahs.
Cubs were born to Sayaya and Freddy, two of eight rehabilitated cheetahs who were brought from Namibia to India’s Kono National Park in the central state of Madhya Pradesh last September as part of a government plan. Recreate 50 of India’s big cats over the next five years.
Go to TwitterEnvironment Minister Bhupinder Yadav described the birth of the cheetahs as “a momentous event in our wildlife conservation history”.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also welcomed the announcement, It’s called “wonderful news.”
The announcement of the arrival of the cheetah cubs comes just days after one of the Namibian cheetahs, a female named Sasha, was born. He died of kidney disease.
While cheetahs were declared extinct in India in 1952, they are now roaming one of the country’s national parks once again.
The group that arrived from Namibia in September consisted of three male and five adult female cheetahs, including Sasha and Sayaya, according to a press release from the Namibia Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF).
The animals were moved from the quarantine area to the acclimatization areas in November last year and were subsequently released into the park.
In February, a dozen more cheetahs — seven males and five females — were brought in from South Africa, which has signed an agreement with India to introduce dozens of cheetahs into the country over the next decade.
Cheetahs are the only large carnivores in India that have become extinct.
under British colonial ruleForests across India have been cleared to develop settlements and establish farms, resulting in habitat loss for big cats, including the leopard.
Less dangerous than tigers and relatively easy to tame, cheetahs were also frequently used by Indian nobility for sport hunting.
Today, spotted cats are found in southern and eastern Africa, particularly in Namibia, Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
But the endangered feline had a much greater scope. Historically, cheetahs roamed the Middle East and central India as well as most of sub-Saharan Africa. Habitat loss, poaching, and conflict with humans have greatly reduced their population.
There are now fewer than 7,000 cheetahs left in the wild, according to the WWF.
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