Two more cheetah cubs die at Kuno Park, one unwell

Experts say it could be due to extreme heat and inadequate nourishment; one cub died on Tuesday; the sole remaining cub born to translocated Namibian cheetah is underweight and under observation

Updated - May 25, 2023 09:51 pm IST

Published - May 25, 2023 05:26 pm IST - New Delhi

A cheetah named Jwala, earlier known as Siyaya who translocated to Kuno National Park, Madhya Pradesh from Namibia on 17th September 2022, gave birth to four cubs.

A cheetah named Jwala, earlier known as Siyaya who translocated to Kuno National Park, Madhya Pradesh from Namibia on 17th September 2022, gave birth to four cubs. | Photo Credit: ANI

Two more cheetah cubs have died and one is unwell at the Kuno National Park (KNP) in Madhya Pradesh. One cub died on Tuesday.

The extreme heat and the lack of adequate nutrition have likely contributed to the deaths, say experts associated with the cheetah reintroduction project.

With this, only one cub of the litter of four born to the Namibian cheetah, Jwala, is now alive.

3 adult cheetahs dead

Three adult cheetahs have died since 20 of the animals were relocated from Namibia and South Africa respectively to KNP, in an experiment at establishing a community of cheetahs, the only large cat to have gone extinct in India.

Also read: New committee set up to oversee cheetah project

On May 23, following the death of one of the cubs in the morning, a team of veterinarians observed that the remaining three were unwell. “It was extremely hot, close to 46 degree Celsius– 47 degree Celsius, and the cubs are entirely reliant on their mother for nutrition. The three ailing cubs were immediately taken from their mother and given palliative care. Unfortunately, two more died that evening itself,” J.S. Chauhan, Chief Wildlife Warden, Madhya Pradesh, told The Hindu.

Also Read | Snap judgement: On India’s Project Cheetah

These two deaths were however made public only on Thursday. “The third cub is now under observation. She is underweight and our plan is to take care of it for at least a month, till it reaches its expected weight. In the last two days, she has recovered well, though still unwell,” Mr. Chauhan said.

After a month, wildlife officials will attempt reuniting the cub with its mother.

Cheetah cubs, in the wild, reportedly have a survival rate of 10% with roughly the same fraction making it to adulthood, a press release from the Environment Ministry noted on Wednesday.

‘Weakest of big cats’

India’s cheetah reintroduction plan, said Qamar Qureshi, scientist at the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, is premised on having the animals establish a sustainable population under wild conditions. “Cheetahs have a naturally high mortality and are the weakest of the big cats. We only intervene under extreme conditions and in this case, the animals were bonding and following their mother around. In nature, births and death are inevitable,” he told The Hindu. ”So far what we have observed isn’t too far out of the ordinary,” said Dr. Qureshi, who is involved with the cheetah programme.

Jwala, the adult female, was a “hand-reared” cheetah from Namibia and this was her first litter of cubs. “It’s also possible that she was inexperienced and unable to nourish all the cubs adequately, and add to that the extreme heat. Hopefully conditions will be more supportive with the approaching monsoon,” Mr. Chauhan added.

Earlier this month, an adult female, Daksha, died following injuries involving a skirmish among the animals. Two other cheetahs, Sasha and Uday, died in February and April respectively from a renal infection and cardiovascular problems. Daksha’s death has brought the total number of adult cheetahs to 17, six of which are now in the wild.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.