Is this the aircraft that brought cheetahs from Namibia to India?

Over seven decades after it was declared extinct in India, the cheetah is being reintroduced in the country.

By Md Mahfooz Alam  Published on  17 Sep 2022 12:49 PM GMT
Is this the aircraft that brought cheetahs from Namibia to India?

Hyderabad: Over seven decades after it was declared extinct in India, the cheetah is being reintroduced in the country. The spotted cats were brought to India on a special cargo flight from Namibia under the plan called 'Project Cheetah'.

They were taken to Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh after the flight landed in Gwalior on 17 September. On his 72nd birthday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the presence of MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and wildlife experts, released the animals into an enclosure spread over 10 km.

Project Cheetah aims to restore India's "historic revolutionary balance" and also develop a cheetah metapopulation that will help in the global conservation of the animal.

Before the big cats landed in India, several social media users shared a photo of an aircraft and claimed that the aircraft painted with the Cheetah's colour was going to bring the animals to India.

A Hindi News Channel, Sudharshan TV, shared the aircraft's photo with the caption, "On Narendra Modi's birthday, Cheetahs will arrive in India from Namibia on this plane. The plane has been painted in Cheetah's colour." (Archive)


Another Twitter user shared the photo along with one of a woman holding a blood bag for her daughter and wrote, "What discrepancies are there to see! When Modi's government is sending a plane painted cheetah's face to Namibia, at the same time a mother is holding a blood bag in her hand while waiting to get a bed for her daughter in the government hospital." (Archive)


Several Twitter and Facebook users have shared the photo with similar claims.

Click here and here to see more Facebook posts.

Fact Check

NewsMeter noticed that the painting on the aircraft that was said to bring the cheetahs from Namibia to India was of a tiger and not a cheetah.

We ran a keyword search and found a tweet by the verified handle of the High Commission of India in Windhoek, Namibia which showed a special tiger-faced aircraft to carry the cats from Nambia to India.

To find out whether the aircraft was specially painted for Project Cheetah, we ran a reverse image search of the picture and found the same photo in reports by The Siberian Times and Daily Mail in 2015.

According to The Siberian Times, the Russian carrier Transaero unveiled a special flight in June 2015 featuring the face of a Siberian Tiger (Amur Tiger) on one of its long-haul Boeing 747-400 planes. Daily Mail reported that the face of the tiger was used to draw attention to the plight of the Amur Tiger—one of the most endangered in the world.

After seven years, the Boeing 747-400 was acquired by Sharjah-based Aquiline International and leased to a Moldovian company Terra Avia. We checked Terra Avia's website and found it offers Boeing 747-400 and Boeing 737-300 aircraft rental services and cargo transport services.

In an exclusive interview with DD News on 15 September 2022, Roman Trandafiloff, the CEO of Aquiline International, said the aircraft belongs to his company and was acquired a year ago. The video description reads, "A Special flight has been arranged to get Cheetahs from Namibia to India. All economy seats have been removed from Boeing 747 for easy transportation."

DD News also tweeted photos of a demo test done on the special Boeing plane to avoid any last-minute glitch during the translocation of the cheetahs. The photos show Terra Avia's name written on the aircraft.

It is evident that the aircraft that translocated the cheetahs from Namibia to India was neither an Indian carrier nor was it painted like a cheetah for the special occasion. Hence, the claim is false.

Claim Review:A plane has been coloured like a Cheetah to translocate Cheetah from Namibia to India
Claimed By:Social Media Users
Claim Reviewed By:NewsMeter
Claim Source:Social Media
Claim Fact Check:False
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