Their main prey base in India will be spotted and large deer and the Indian gazelle, and the four-horned antelope.

“So we believe that they are experienced enough to handle any dangerous interactions with the leopards in Kuno,” says Mr van der Merwe.

Also, in unfenced reserves like Kuno there is also a possibility that the cheetahs can disperse in any direction and becoming isolated. This will be managed by either satellite or VHF tracking collars to bring them back to the central area.

“The cheetahs do seem to settle down after a while and we have strategies in place to keep the males, in particular, anchored to the initial release site using scent markings etc,” says Prof Tordiffe.

Relocation of animals is always fraught with risks.

“We are taking animals out of a familiar environment and it takes time for them to really feel comfortable in their new habitat. It is true that cheetahs are known to have lower survival rates after reintroductions than other large carnivores,” says Prof Tordiffe.

But he points out to a well-documented reintroduction of cheetahs in Malawi where 80% of the adult cheetahs were still alive after a year and that their population managed to grow quite successfully despite the loss of 20% of the cats in the first year.

How does India plan to sustain a cheetah population?
Some Indian conservationists remain sceptical of the idea, saying that most of the country’s former cheetah habitats are shrinking because of pressure on land.

Officials like Mr Jhala are more optimistic and believe the Kuno park has sufficient space, ample prey and less pressure of human population, all key to the cheetah’s survival.

India is looking at a capacity population of 20 cheetahs in Kuno national park.