Most famous for its tigers, India has a surprising amount of wildlife more commonly associated with African safaris, including large numbers of one-horned rhino, Asian elephant, various gazelles, jackal, caracal and even the occasional hyena. Leopards are found throughout the country (even in cities such as Mumbai) with the north additionally being home to beautiful, secretive clouded and snow leopards.
Lion and cheetah also used to roam the country until the mid-1800s when hunting and habitat destruction began to decimate their numbers. Asiatic lions can still be found in Gir National Park in the western state of Gujarat: sadly, the last surviving cheetah was shot in 1948.
However – after many false starts – it now looks like the cheetah is about to make a comeback with the planned introduction of five males and five females into Central India’s Kuno National Park in November 2021. The speedy cats are coming from South Africa, where Indian wildlife professionals are being sent beforehand for expert training in handling and caring for them.
Kuno is one of India’s less visited national parks, mostly because it doesn’t have the draw of a resident tiger population. Nevertheless, its open landscapes and abundant prey base of antelope, wild boar and deer make it the perfect habitat for cheetah. We look forward to seeing how the park and its cheetahs grow over the coming months and to sending our first clients there soon.
Kuno National Park is only a four-hour drive from the famous Ranthambore National Park, so will make the perfect addition to existing itineraries such as our new In Search Of The Rare Wildlife Of Western India tour which already includes excellent chances of seeing three big cats (lion, leopard and tiger), smaller cats (including jungle cat, Indian desert cat, rusty-spotted cat and caracal) plus other rare carnivores such as the Indian grey wolf, striped hyena, sloth bear and golden jackal. The addition of cheetah to this and other Reef & Rainforest programmes will be sure to delight big cat enthusiasts from around the world.