The Madhya Pradesh Forest Department has denied reports that chital from Rajasthan are being ferried to the Kuno National Park (KNP) in Madhya Pradesh for the newly acquired cheetahs to prey on them.
On Tuesday, several media outlets reported that members of the Bishnoi community in Rajasthan, which is very active in wildlife conservation, had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, protesting against the alleged capture of chital by Forest Department officials to bolster prey numbers in the Kuno reserve.
On Saturday, Mr. Modi released three cheetah — out of a batch of eight brought from Namibia — into a protected enclosure at the KNP. This is a part of a long term move to populate the reserve with the predator after they went extinct in India in 1952. Sambar and chital would constitute preferred prey for the wild cat that is currently being acclimatised to Indian conditions before they are let into the wild. “No chital have been brought from Rajasthan into Kuno. There are already close to 20,000 chital in the forest here. There are several wildlife parks in Madhya Pradesh with surplus chital population. During summers many spots see a scarcity of water and fodder and these animals are sometimes relocated to help them access food and water,” Madhya Pradesh Chief Wildlife Warden Jasbir Singh Chauhan said in a statement.
As part of these relocations, chital were being moved to the Satpura National Park, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the Nauradehi forest and the KNP. These animals were also moved around because they would graze on standing crop and cause losses to those who lived in the vicinity, he added.