In yet another attack on his own party and the Centre, BJP MP Varun Gandhi has termed bringing cheetahs from Africa and allowing them to die “cruelty and negligence”, and called for a focus on conserving India’s endangered species.
Mr Gandhi’s remarks come in the backdrop of nine cheetah deaths in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park in a span of five months, and amid reports of the next batch of the big cats being brought from South Africa and introduced into the state’s Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary.
As part of Project Cheetah, the first batch of the big cats, brought from Namibia, had been released in Kuno National Park by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his birthday – September 17 – last year. Sunday will be the first anniversary of Project Cheetah.
In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Mr Gandhi tagged a report on the another batch of cheetahs and said, “Importing cheetahs from Africa and allowing nine of them to die in a foreign land is not just cruelty, it’s an appalling display of negligence. We should focus on conserving our own endangered species and habitats rather than contributing to the suffering of these magnificent creatures.”
Importing cheetahs from Africa and allowing nine of them to die in a foreign land is not just cruelty, it’s an appalling display of negligence.
We should focus on conserving our own endangered species and habitats rather than contributing to the suffering of these magnificent… https://t.co/atB0hFE8wC
— Varun Gandhi (@varungandhi80) September 16, 2023
“This reckless pursuit of exotic animals must end immediately, and we should prioritise the welfare of our native wildlife instead,” his post said.
This is far from the first time that the MP from Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit has attacked his own party or a government headed by the BJP. At an event in Uttar Pradesh last month, he had asked people not to disturb a sadhu (ascetic) and said nobody knows “when ‘maharaaj ji’ will become the chief minister”.
The ascetic’s phone had started ringing, but Mr Gandhi had stopped BJP workers from asking him to switch it off. “Please do not not stop him, never know when ‘maharaaj ji’ will become the chief minister. Then what will happen to us?” he had been quoted as saying by news agency PTI. The joke was seen as a dig at the government in Uttar Pradesh.
Kuno National Park has seen the reintroduction of 20 adult cheetahs since September last year, and four cubs have been born there since then. Nine of the cheetahs, including three cubs, had died in a span of five months till early August this year.
Some experts had attributed the cheetah deaths to the use of sub-standard radio collars, but the government had dismissed the charge as “speculation and hearsay without scientific evidence”.
Hearing a petition on the deaths, the Supreme Court had said last month that there was no reason to question the government on the moves being made to reintroduce cheetahs in India.
In an interview with PTI, Project Cheetah head SP Yadav said that the next batch of cheetahs will be imported from South Africa and introduced in the Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary, which will be ready to welcome them by the end of the year.
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