Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary
Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary also popularly known as Narayan Sarovar Wildlife Sanctuary or Narayan Sarovar Chinkara Sanctuary notified as such in April 1981 and subsequently denotified in 1995 with reduced area, is a unique eco-system near Narayan Sarovar in the Lakhpat taluka of Kutch district in the state of Gujarat, India. The desert forest in this sanctuary is said to be the only one of its kind in India. Located in the arid zone, a part of it is a seasonal wetland. It has 15 threatened wildlife species and has desert vegetation comprising thorn and scrub forests. Its biodiversity has some rare animals and birds, and rare flowering plants. Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has identified it as one of the last remaining habitats of the cheetah in India and a possible reintroduction site for the species. The most sighted animal here is the chinkara (population estimated in the range of 1200–1500), which is currently the flagship species of the sanctuary
Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary and Banni Grasslands, both in Kutch, have been classified by Wildlife Institute of India (WII) as the last remaining habitats of the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) in India and are proposed as some of the possible sites for the reintroduction of the species in India. Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus) that used to occur here are now locally extinct in India and elsewhere, except a very small critically endangered and fragmented population of last few, estimated to be below 100, thought to be surviving only in the central desert of Iran. Thus cheetah experts from around the world have advised India to import and introduce the cheetah from Africa as genetically it is identical to the ones found in Asia, as latest genetic studies have revealed that the Asian population had separated from the African relatively recently only 5000 years ago which is not enough for a subspecies level differentiation.
However, the reintroduction project has been on hold in 2012, after the discovery that Asiatic cheetahs are genetically distinct and have been separated from the South African cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus jubatus) between 32,000 and 67,000 years ago
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