Molecular Ecology Article Calls Cheetah Reintroduction Project Genetically Flawed

An African Cheetah
Jayanth Sharma
Reintroduction of the African Cheetah would only be an import of an exotic species.

An article in the esteemed journal Molecular Ecology has stated that African Cheetahs are genetically very different from their Asiatic Counterpart and hence has started a debate on the government’s ambitious Rs. 300 crore Cheetah reintroduction project. The article states that “Asiatic Cheetahs are unambiguously separated from African subspecies” with divergence estimates placing the split at “32,000 to 67,000 years ago”. The Asiatic subspecies is severely threatened with only 70-110 individuals existing in Iran. However, the African subspecies is present in good numbers and hence the reintroduction would only be an import of an exotic species. There are also concerns over Cheetahs being a genetically weak species, a new dimension to human-wildlife conflict and genetic pollution with the Asiatic species.

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