New Delhi: India has signed an agreement with South Africa to translocate 12 cheetahs to the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh, a senior official in the Union Environment Ministry said on Friday.

The pact was signed last week and seven male and five female cheetahs are expected to reach Kuno by February 15, he said.  The South African environment department in a statement on Thursday said the plan is to send 12 cheetahs every year for a decade. India has not released any statement in this regard so far.

The 12 South African cheetahs have been in quarantine since July last year and were expected to reach Kuno this month but "some processes in South Africa took some time", delaying the

transfer, according to the official.   It is expected that the South African authorities will soon receive an export permit and a certificate under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) for the transfer of the animals, he said, adding India has completed all formalities.    

Of the 12 cheetahs, three have been kept in Phinda quarantine boma in KwaZulu-Natal Province and nine in Rooiberg Quarantine boma in Limpopo Province. The flight carrying them will take off from the Johannesburg airport.  Cheetah is the only large carnivore that got completely wiped out from India due to over-hunting and habitat loss.

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