Return of the cheetah

Hunted to extinction in India by 1952, the big cat is now being reintroduced in the country. Will the world's first intercontinental translocation of a carnivore in the wild work? A cover feature by India Today magazine

Two of the cheetahs headed for India in a quarantine enclosure at a reserve AP near Bella Bella, South Africa

An early winter morning somewhere near the very heart of India, the sunlight getting so scattered in the mist as to become a luminous haze that seems to make time stop. The twitter of birds is soft, melodic, mostly collegial. Somewhere in the tall, straw-coloured grass, set high on a compact, pale buff face, a pair of topaz eyes burn with an inner glow. Held up by two dark teardrop-like streaks running down the face, as if by a pair of tongs, and powered by a bionic set of optic nerves, they are scanning a landscape that could well have been set anywhere from 72,000 years ago to early last century. On the far horizon, somewhere within its 210-degree vision, it spots action. Perhaps a chital doe, five kilometres away. Even at that distance, its laser-sharp eyes can pick out a magical pictorial symmetry—the spots that cover the deer’s body, just like its own. And then begins what could be about the most thrilling of motion pictures in the history of life. The crouch going into a canter that softly eats up the miles in between, and then... at last...the full throttle, the unbeliev­able torque as it twists and turns, the scapula flowing back and forth on the few occasions that the four limbs touch the ground—for this magnificent beast is almost fully in the air as it devours the last bit of savannah left between itself and prey at 120 kmph. A scene that can be enacted by only one land animal: the cheetah.

An early winter morning somewhere near the very heart of India, the sunlight getting so scattered in the mist as to become a luminous haze that seems to make time stop. The twitter of birds is soft, melodic, mostly collegial. Somewhere in the tall, straw-coloured grass, set high on a compact, pale buff face, a pair of topaz eyes burn with an inner glow. Held up by two dark teardrop-like streaks running down the face, as if by a pair of tongs, and powered by a bionic set of optic nerves, they are scanning a landscape that could well have been set anywhere from 72,000 years ago to early last century. On the far horizon, somewhere within its 210-degree vision, it spots action. Perhaps a chital doe, five kilometres away. Even at that distance, its laser-sharp eyes can pick out a magical pictorial symmetry—the spots that cover the deer’s body, just like its own. And then begins what could be about the most thrilling of motion pictures in the history of life. The crouch going into a canter that softly eats up the miles in between, and then... at last...the full throttle, the unbeliev­able torque as it twists and turns, the scapula flowing back and forth on the few occasions that the four limbs touch the ground—for this magnificent beast is almost fully in the air as it devours the last bit of savannah left between itself and prey at 120 kmph. A scene that can be enacted by only one land animal: the cheetah.

Graphic by Nilanjan Das | View full screen

It’s also a scene not from India’s distant past but one that will play out—given a bit of cat luck—in the winter of 2022. Venue: the Kuno National Park, in northwestern Madhya Pradesh’s Sheopur district, where the former farmlands of relocated villa­ges have regenerated into lush grasslands, interspersing scrub and deciduous forest, and abutting analogous areas in Rajasthan, like the famous tiger reserve, Ranthambore. The reappeara­nce of the cheetah in India—via the translocation of eight individuals from Namibia—is by itself a remarkable fact. For, while the name ‘cheetah’ is itself of Hindus­tani origin—deriving from the Sanskrit chitraka or ‘painted’—the last time the cheetah hunted in these parts was 75 years ago. Rather, they were the hunted. In 1947, the last three of India’s native cheetahs were sighted—in an aspect of defeat (see And Then There Were None...). Photographed with their long, sleek bodies lying slumped and lifeless at the feet of the gun-toting Maharaja Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo of Koriya, in present-day Chhattisgarh. In 1952, the cheetah became the first animal to be declared extinct in independent India—even if it likely survived as a few scattered, forlorn coalitions into the ’60s. That’s the situation sought to be reversed now, with what will be the world’s first intercontinental translocation of a big carnivore in the wild, unless you count the Gwalior maharaja’s attempt to source lion cubs from Africa in 1920 only so as to hunt them in the forests of Gwalior. On September 17, a month after India marked 75 years of freedom, a handful of cheetahs will tiptoe into a controlled forest enclosure to breathe the free air of a country that hosted them for millennia and gave them their name—and also tortured them to extinction. A project at once ambitious and modest, carefully designed yet risk-prone, the cheetah steps will be monitored with avid interest by wildlife experts not just in India but also around the world.


For, this ‘small big cat’ from the puma lineage, Acinonyx jubatus, had likely been as endemic to India as its cousin felids from the panthera family—the tig­ers and leopards. In fact, recent genetic studies, including on the remains of a 19th century cheetah from MP, propose a split with the African variety much deeper on the species time-scale—about 72,000 years ago—than thought before. For millennia, therefore, the cheetah had roamed our lands in the hundreds of thousands. Just like they had in other continents. From southern Africa, where the earliest fossils of A. jubatus, dating from about 3.9 mya, have been found. To ancient Egypt and Sumer, where evidence for tamed cheetahs crop up in visual and scriptural lore. To continental Europe, where they are depicted on the Chauvet cave paintings from circa 30,000 BC. In Europe and the Americas, they did not survive the mass megafaunal extinction at the end of the Pleistocene, a kind of big mammal holocaust that occurred as the curtains fell on the last Ice Age, and also wiped out the sabre-toothed tiger and the woolly mammoths. The cheetah survived in Africa, West Asia/ Egypt, and India. Even if the human hand, to which is ascribed a large part of the blame for that mass extinction event, did not pause its actions.

The entry gate to Kuno National Park already features its soon-to-arrive star attractions, but not without a nod to its other planned import, lions from Gir; (Photo: Mujeeb Faruqui)

Cheetah hunting was itself a thing—and unrelenting. But the historical epoch also came to be replete with che­etah coursing—hunting game with tamed cheetahs playing the same role as hounds. The cheetah had a special trait of vulnerability here: it is largely non-aggressive towards humans, and could be tamed after about a year, but unlike the hounds, couldn’t breed in captivity. All the cheetahs that filled the royal courts and annals of diplomacy—becoming symbols of prestige from the Holy Roman Empire to the Mughal court—were caught wild. From the pharaohs to Genghis Khan (who liked to ride with one on his saddle) to the 16th century Pope Leo X, who liked exotic animals as gifts, all partook of this. As did countless kingly types from Europe to India. Akbar had something like a cheetah fetish, and kept some 9,000 of them over his lifetime—1,000 being his peak stable strength. Samand Malik, his favourite cheetah, was decked out in a bejewelled coat, carried by liveried soldiers and featured on miniatures. But only one bred in captivity out of those thousands, Akbar’s son Jahangir notes. All this caused a huge strain on the population in the wild.


At a much humbler ledge on the social pecking order, Dinesh Adivasi, a Sahariya tribal who lives in a 15 x 15 feet sandstone walled hut in Resham Colony, on the banks of the Kuno river in Sheopur district and works as a casual labourer, awaits the region’s date with history in September 2022. His perspective offers a unique intersection between the tales of kings and ordinary folk: his forefathers probably participated as attendants in the hunting escapades of the Gwalior maharajas. Perhaps the last of two millennia of vicarious hunting.

A team of global experts examines an India-bound cheetah in Windhoek, as high commissioner Prashant Agarwal looks on; (Photo: ANI)

The animal’s numbers had declined enough by the dawn of the colonial era for cheetah coursing to have ebbed as a sport—even if surviving into the early 20th century, as a 1939 video and signs of the first translocations from Africa to feed India’s scant base attest to. Those events were from another era—in the service of the hunting ethos, not guided by the ecological sciences. Witness the Gwalior maharaja’s tryst with African lions. The ruler of Junagadh apparently did not allow him to hunt in his territories, according to conservationist Divyabhanusinh’s 2005 book, The Story of Asia’s Lions. A 1959 book by Col. Kesri Singh, the ‘shikar officer’ of Gwalior State and later of Jaipur—The Tiger of Rajasthan—also records how Maharaja Madho Rao Scindia sourced 12 lion cubs from Africa in 1920, bred and released them around Kuno. The animals later turned cattle-lifters and man-eaters and were ordered to be killed. One of them was shot in Panna and another in Jhansi.

The British, whose own taste for mass-scale hunting tilted towards big game, treated cheetahs like vermin, to be exterminated so as to create a larger niche for their prize trophies: tigers and lions. Cheetahs were bounty-hunted, with rewards ranging from Rs 6 to Rs 18 for adults. Says Mahesh Rangarajan, professor of history and environmental studies at Ashoka University: “Records from the British period suggest cheetahs were hunted for bounty as they were seen picking on sheep and goat. They were hunted for sport and were trapped too. Besides, the cheetah habitat was under pressure and shrinking from deforestation, clearing for agriculture. Most importantly, there was a sharp drop in its prey base, which led to a population collapse. This is true but for all of Asia where the cheetah was earlier found.” Hunting records, says Rangarajan, show cheetah populations were reported from as far down south as Tirunelveli to Palamu in Jharkhand before going extinct.

Seventy-five years after the final bullets rang out in Koriya, Dinesh perhaps remains unaware of the precise details, but he knows his social ecology too will be touched. From native royalty out to Charlemagne to Indira Gandhi, people of power always had a yen for association with beautiful predators. In fact, the idea of transloca­ting cheetahs from Africa was born in the 1970s, with Indira Gandhi. And now, Prime Minister Narendra Modi joins that prestige list and takes that story forward. He will be on hand on September 17, his birthday, personally releasing three of the new African imports into a boma—an African word for a specially designed enclosure—at Jakhoda, not far from Dinesh’s home. After a month of acclimatisation, the radio-collared cheetahs will be moved to a bigger enclosure before being relea­sed into the wild in another couple of mon­ths. Despite sceptics, animal-lovers all around hope the sight of the cheetah’s unmistakable pelage—tawny, dappled coats slung along an average four feet lengthwise, and only two and a half feet in height, leaping into breathtakingly graceful strides—will again become a common event in India. Ecologists all over hope this will mark a turning point in the story of one of most cherished animals, which declined from an estimated global population of 100,000 at the turn of the previous century to 7,100 individuals in 2016-17.


The story has already begun around Kuno. A buzz is in the air. Dinesh has been watching convoys of white official cars, driven at faster-than-usual speeds, perhaps betraying some inner communion with the animal they are hoping to introduce, criss-crossing the bridge on the Kuno for a few days. Captured in Namibia over a month ago, they fly from Windhoek to Jaipur on September 16 in a chartered cargo flight. The final leg for the imported guests, the next day, will be a 40-minute chopper ride to Palpur, an old village site within Kuno where five helipads have been built. Animals suffer during translocation across large distances—they undergo str­ess, lose weight and get disoriented. That also reduces their fitness for the wild. The month in the boma, where carefully arranged prime cuts of small game have been introduced, without competition, should restore some of their spirit. After that looms the free ranging across the great 750 sq. km expanse of Kuno.

So, what are the cons? What risk is entailed here in this grand experiment with nature? What are its ultimate benefits, going beyond the symbolic? These are only some of the big questions that dog everyone invested in the project.

Some of the devil lies in the detail. For the project to succeed even at the elementary level, the cheetahs have to survive—and thrive. That would then lead on to Phase II and III. “Twelve more cheetahs are to come from South Africa. The total number of cheetahs arriving in India will be more than 25. The project will pan out over the next five years,” Bhupendra Yadav, the Union minister for environment, forests and climate change, said while reviewing preparations at Palpur on September 11. But very many variables attend on the survival of this slender founder population itself. One is the presence of a sustainable prey base. Cheetahs, because of their slender build, typically go for small game—it would be a dietary shift from the impalas back in Namibia to the chital (spotted deer) and chinkara, but one they can conceivably manage. Traditionally, back in the coursing days, they had to be trained for bigger game—cheetahs would avoid even black bucks in the wild otherwise, for the hunter could end up becoming the aggrieved party. Going for a full-blown nilgai would be a bit of a stretch. With the bigger deer, antelopes and wild boars—part of the buffet that Kuno offers—only calves and mid-sized specimens could therefore become part of breakfast menu, but this is hardly a risk-free venture.

Second, there is the small matter of competition. Resident leopards in Kuno—about 65 in all, or nine per 100 sq. km—and tigers, often known to range in from Ranthambore, just 80-odd miles away, are not likely to be too amused at the new guests at the banquet table. And cheetahs are among the most vulnerable to violence within the big cat pantheon. Predators of different species within a stable ecological niche operate what is known as a guild, tolerating each other, if not exactly cooperating, as long as there’s plenty food to go around. The moment the balance shifts, intra-guild competition develops. That’s why the action plan envisages radio-collaring Kuno’s leopards too, so as to monitor interaction. A lone male leopard—a shorter gentleman, but heavier and fiercer—can chase away cheetahs or, on a bad day, even make a meal of them. Not to speak of striped hyenas, the nasty nether-creatures of myth, which Kuno has no dearth of. Litters of cheetah cubs typically have a 90 per cent mortality rate.


To succeed against these odds, one primarily needs fitness in the founder population—individually robust, and capable of breeding at a healthy replacement rate. A few questions were raised on that front too. Three of the original individuals selected for shipment turned out to be captive-bred—it was only after Indian authorities refused to accept them that they were replaced with free-ranging ones. But definitions have been a bit fluid. The word now is that three of the cheetahs were born wild, but spent some time in enclosures. The gender ratio also stayed a bit grey during the run-up to C-Day. Initially, the first group was said to have four females and four males, which went against conventional translocation wisdom. Always for such experiments, more females are kept in a group. Top sources told india today that the confusion owed to a scarcity of females in the source population. Also, one of the original females gave birth after being captured and had to be replaced; another died. But the final tally is a healthy one: three males, five females.

How this cheetah octet evolves its social patterns will be crucial. Cheetahs typically live in three formations—lone females with cubs, groups of sibling males known as ‘coalitions’, and the rare lone ranger. Although female cheetahs are promiscuous, the last thing anyone would want is two expensive imports facing off in mortal combat in the wild. There’s a lot riding on this project. An outlay of Rs 91.65 crore, for one. So everyone is hoping all the fragile socialising between prey, cousins from the fiercer felid families, sundry other rivals and intra-cheetah groups works out reasonably well. The next phase would then involve trying to build up a stable source population at Kuno that would eventually feed other reserves such as Mukundra, Shergarh and Bhainsrorgarh in Rajasthan and Madhav National Park and Gandhi Sagar Sanctuary in MP.

The other question relates to the larger ecological one. Does this have value beyond being a majestic showpiece item, almost akin to a latter-day version of the zoo, updated with environmentally correct sounds? (Zoos, incidentally, are an unacknowledged artefact of wildlife destruction, having decimated cheetahs throughout the previous century.) Project Tiger is an example to go by. Famously, because of being at the apex of the food chain, the robustness of tiger populations also meant the preservation of entire ecosystems of unquantifiable preciousness. Minister Yadav proffers a similar argument here. “Project Cheetah aims to bring back the only large mammal to go extinct in independent India. The project is not just about the charismatic cheetah itself, but more about its role in being able to restore the balance within ecosystems it inhabited. While the tiger has served as the flagship species for forest systems, the cheetah will fill this void for open forests, grasslands and savannahs,” he says. With careful management, it could restore neglected habitats, conserve biodiversity and harness its ability to sequester carbon to the maximum potential. And promoting ecotourism on the side will do no harm to community livelihoods for local folk like Dinesh—the Sahariyas, for instance, listed as “expert woodsmen” with a variety of forest-related skills, are also dirt-poor, with high malnutrition levels and only a few able to rely on farming in an irrigation-scarce area.

Why Kuno?

In 2009, when work on cheetah reintro­duction began in right earnest, the Kuno Palpur Sanctuary (as it was called then) had already qualified as a viable habitat for translocating Asiatic lions from Gir. Once the cheetah plan began taking shape, the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) conducted a feasibility study at Kuno and Nauradehi in MP and Shahgarh in Rajasthan and found them appropriate. When the project was revived in January 2020, the WII conducted a reassessment at 10 sites across India, and found Kuno most suitable. The factors that went in its favour? One, the initial groundwork for the coming of the lions, such as the relocation of 24 villages, which made the reserve free of human habitation. Two, an adequate prey base. Three, it offers a forest-grassland mosaic as part of the Khathiar Gir dry deciduous ecoregion, with major tree species like the salai, kardhai, khair and tendu speckled with savannah. Four, climate. Cheetahs thrive best in temperature zones of 23-40°C, and Kuno fit the bill, especially for its arid/ semi-arid properties—higher baseline humidity can affect the success of a project such as this. First notified as a sanctuary in 1981 with 344 sq. km, Kuno was upgraded to a national park in 2018 with the addition of 413 sq. km. Unsurprisingly, these were the most sought-after hunting preserves of the Scindia rulers of Gwalior—back in the day when tigers abounded, as also exceptionally large heads of chital.

The cheetah enclosure at the Kuno National Park; (Photo: Mujeeb Faruqui)

The sceptics are not convin­ced—and their arguments revolve precisely around the suitability of prey base and habitat. Wildlife conservationist Valmik Thapar, whose book Exotic Aliens famously describes lions and cheetahs as historically non-native to the subcontinent, derives the reasons for his vociferous veto right there. The large open grasslands vital for the cheetah are simply non-existent in India, he says—at best, they can inhabit fenced areas, possibly being fed by hand or baiting in his opinion. “After seeing 400 different cheetahs in Africa, and studying every nuance of the animal, I can say I have not seen any habitat in India that has the prey to support free-ranging cheetah. What’s being brought is an exotic species,” Thapar tells India Today. That too, one extremely fragile, even on home turf. “Even in the eastern Serengeti, which has 1-1.5 million prey animals for the cheetah, the mortality rate of cheetah cubs is 90 per cent,” he argues. Kuno, with villa­ges and feral dogs all around it, would be hostile territory. He would rather that the precious funds being spent here be utilised to conserve species like the tiger, lion and elephant that currently face grave risks.


On the other side of the debate are conservationists like M.K. Rajnitsinh, a former IAS officer and director, wildlife, Government of India, who argue that cheetahs are no way alien to India. “If Humayun brought the cheetah to India, what explains their depiction on rock art thousands of years ago?” Indeed, sites like Khairabad and Khairvai record the beast—if not with the same majesty as San rock art from South Africa, in full flight, with its unmistakable rudder-like tail held up for balance. “Also, Akbar had thousands of cheetahs in his inventory. They must have run a very successful conservation programme,” he adds, the rhetoric flowing high. “And cheetahs are known to survive in forests too. The last cheetah to be shot was in fact in a Sal forest, not a grassland,” adds Ranjitsinh, whom the Supreme Court had in 2020 appointed head of the expert committee to oversee the cheetah’s translocation.

A view of the Palpur fort next to the Kuno river; (Photo: Nishant Kapoor)

Kuno has about 30 chital per sq. km, a density that rivals many well-managed tiger reserves, and this is when it doesn’t have a single tiger. The overall prey base would “suffice for around 20 cheetahs. Once the areas around Kuno recover, we can possibly support up to 40,” says Dr Y.V. Jhala, dean, WII. “And Kuno has no feral dogs or villages in its 750 sq. km. We plan to have a managed meta population. Our viability assessment suggests a very high probability of success, and factors in all the doubts raised,” he adds. The project has been designed in accordance with guidelines set by the IUCN (Internati­onal Union for Conservation of Nature) Reintroduction Group, and accounts for a probable mortality as high as 50 per cent.

If survival is the question, Project Cheetah itself had to face up to that challenge. This stage has come 50 years after the idea was first mooted, in the teeth of opposition from a section of wild-lifers—and after crossing a curious legal tangle. The latest chapter in the translocation story, which began in 2009 under the UPA’s environment minister Jairam Ramesh, ran into hostile turf almost right away. In 2013, persuaded by the naysayers, the Supreme Court halted it. In 2017, the National Tiger Conservation Authority sought a clarification, and it was only in January 2020 that the then Chief Justice of India, Justice Sharad Bobde, gave the go-ahead. “The bench exercised a great deal of caution,” Justice Bobde tells India Today. “The court agreed to it on an experimental basis, after looking into the pros and cons. I felt the cheetah will do well in the parts where it is being introduced, as they aren’t alien there.”


And thus India embarked on its atte­mpt to rescript natural history. Surrounding it may be a forest of sounds, some favourable, others hostile. But those invested in it go beyond local tribal populations who see new avenues of employment, or hoteli­ers who spy some new prey in the form of interested amate­urs. The story relates to the entirety of life systems, ultimately. India has had a patchy history—wanton hunting, defor­estation and habitat loss to mining and infrastructure continue to this day, but there are also success stories. Project Tiger, especially, has bounced back from the lows of the early 2000s, with wild populations more than doubling to 2,967 by 2019. Kuno itself has other dilemmas to solve. Its lion relocation plan is still not exti­nct—a recently painted mural at Tiktoli, an entry point to the reserve, depicts a lion too. But, for now, the story is all about the only big cat in the world that does not roar. It’s also the only cat with non-retractable claws—they dig into the ground to function as a sprinter’s spikes, as the very scene that thrilled ancient artists across continents unfolds once again.

Travel itinerary

A look at what the animals’ journey from Namibia to India will entail

  • The eight cheetahs will fly from Windhoek in Namibia to Jaipur in a chartered Boeing 747 cargo flight on Sept. 16 and reach Jaipur on Sept. 17. From Jaipur, they will be flown in helicopters to Palpur, located within the Kuno National Park
  • Five helipads have been builtat Palpur for the purpose
  • The distance between Windhoek and Jaipur is 8,367 km. The travel time is 10 hours
  • Palpur is 280-odd km from Jaipur, that’s 40-42 minutes for a chopper
  • The cheetahs will be travelling in crates measuring 114 cm x 118 cm x 84 cm each

Tourism push

A whole new economy

A resort coming up near Kuno National Park; (Photo: Mujeeb Faruqui)

Sheopur district, and in particular Karahal block where Kuno National Park is located, is one of the most economically and socially backward areas—not just of Madhya Pradesh, but also of the country. Around a quarter of its population belongs to the Sahariya community, which is classified as a ‘particularly vulnerable tribal group’. Agriculture is the mainstay of the district’s economy; manufacturing and tertiary sectors have a negligible contribution.

“There are no industries in the region and land holdings are extremely fragmented. Those who migrate for work get only menial jobs as they don’t possess any skills,” says Hazrat Yadav, 50, of Sesaipura, the village nearest to the national park. The arrival of cheetahs could change that, at least as far as the hospitality sector is concerned, he believes.

And a change is visible: there is a sudden rush for land. Tribals own most of the tracts in the area, and law restricts the transfer of ownership to non-tribals. Thus, prices being quoted for a few tracts that are free from such encumbrances have gone up by three to four times. Among those interested are hoteliers in Rajasthan’s Ranthambore, located merely 120 kilometres from Kuno, who feel the two reserves could develop into a booming tourism circuit in future. “Not a day passes when someone from Rajasthan doesn’t come to Sesaipura looking for land. People are quoting Rs 15 lakh per bigha for their tracts, up from Rs 4 lakh,” says Dharmendra Vishwakarma, a small farmer in the village.

A road leading to the wildlife reserve undergoing repairs; (Photo: Mujeeb Faruqui)

To make up for the lack of private non-tribal land, the government has identified two parcels of 14 hectares each and one of 6 hectares for allotment on long lease around Sesaipura. The MP Tourism Board is already organising visits for the interested groups. “A new big cat specie arouses a lot of interest. If the introduction of cheetahs proves successful, it will be a matter of just a few years before Kuno becomes a major tourist destination,” says Manav Khanduja of Pugdundee Safaris that has also shown interest in setting up a property near the national park.

Jinesh Jain, 52, who has set up a 16-room resort, says: “While challenges remain in running the property, the buzz around the cheetah will add to the business.” His property employs 28 people, most of whom are from the Sahariya community, engaged in housekeeping.

To ensure the locals get ample job opportunities, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, in his recent visit to Palpur, announced the setting up of a skill development centre in Sheopur for “training the youth for tourism”.

In cold blood

And then there were none...

A few months after India’s Independence, Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo, the ruler of Koriya (a princely state that was under the Eastern States Agency and is now part of modern-day Chhattisgarh), saw three cheetahs while driving at night. They were all sitting huddled together, perhaps blinded and scared by the lights.

As per an account of the hunt, sent by the ruler’s secretary to a popular taxidermist, Van Ingen, “The first bullet killed one and the second, the remaining two. The second bullet, after having gone through one, struck the other, which was behind it, and killed it.” The cheetahs were almost identical—all males—and were believed to be from the same litter. It wasn’t known whether the animals were born in Koriya or had migrated from elsewhere.

In his 1923 book, Wild Animals in Cen­tral India, conservationist Dunbar Brander stated that the cheetah had almost disappeared from the Central Provinces.

In January 1948, Ingen requested the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) to publish a record of this hunt. It was left to the editors to call out the act—and they did. “The editors were so nauseated by the account of this slaughter that their first impulse was to consign it to the wastepaper basket. Its publication here is intended in the nature of an impeachment rather than any desire on their part to condone or extol the deed,” they stated in the published record. The journal castigated the ruler, challenging his claims of being a sportsman—like most Indian princes of that era—and also for being ignorant of the status of the cheetah in India. “...So wanton as to destroy such a rare and harmless animal when he [the ruler] has the phenomenal good fortune to run into not one but three together—probably the last remnants of a dying race,” wrote the editors. The lament was justified as the cheetah wasn’t seen again.