India announced on Wednesday that one in eight cheetahs displaced from Namibia had given birth to four cubs, decades after the species was declared extinct in 1952 in the South Asian country.
India’s Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav posted photos and videos of the cubs on Twitter, calling the event “important”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the “amazing news”, also on Twitter.
According to Indian media, a second Namibian cheetah is expected to give birth soon.
Eight Namibian cheetahs were reintroduced to India last year.
Earlier this year, 12 more cheetahs arrived from South Africa to swell to the first contingent.
The announcement of the birth of the four cubs comes days after the death of one Namibian cheetah in the Ancient National Park, a game reserve located 320 kilometers south of New Delhi, the victim of kidney failure.
The Asian cheetah has been officially extinct in India since 1952.
Maharaja Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo is said to have killed the last three recorded specimens in India in the late 1940s.
This subspecies that once roamed the Middle East, Central Asia and India is now only found in very small numbers in Iran.
The loss of the cheetah in India is due primarily to hunters, who covet its prized tawny fur, covered with round spots, but also to the loss of its habitat.
The cheetah is listed as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
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