One more cheetah dies at Kuno, taking the total toll to six 

The Supreme Court had expressed serious concern over the cheetah deaths at KNP and asked the Centre to rise above politics and consider shifting them to Rajasthan

August 02, 2023 01:14 pm | Updated 09:54 pm IST

Under Project Cheetah, a total of 20 radio-collared animals were imported from Namibia and South Africa to the Kuno National Park. File

Under Project Cheetah, a total of 20 radio-collared animals were imported from Namibia and South Africa to the Kuno National Park. File | Photo Credit: ANI

One more cheetah has been confirmed dead by wildlife authorities at the Kuno National Park, Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday. While a post-mortem is under way, the female nicknamed Dhatri and sourced from South Africa, is believed to have contracted a parasitic infection following repeatedly scratching its skin and wounding itself. This is the sixth death reported among the 20 cheetahs brought in from Namibia and South Africa.

Following reports that some of the previous deaths were likely from the collars worn by the cheetah, which lacerate their skin made fragile from humidity and further exposing them to parasites that they have no natural immunity to, several of the cheetah that were roaming in the wild were captured and brought back into the enclosures where their collars were removed and they were examined.

Also Read | Inquiry into cheetah deaths points to natural causes, Centre informs SC

“The post mortem is on but it is likely that the animals are unable to adapt to the local parasites, carried by fleas and ticks, and this is proving fatal. While deaths are expected, we may have to rethink where we will source future batches of animals, given that the animals appear extremely sensitive to the climate,” an expert connected to the Project Cheetah told The Hindu on condition of anonymity.

‘Collars a problem’

Dr. Laurie Marker, Director, Cheetah Conservation Fund, Namibia and closely involved with the programme, told The Hindu in an email that “…collars are definitely a problem in the humidity” and the team was “actively looking into it.”

Also Read | Explained | Cheetahs and tigers: the saga of big cats in India 

The latest death comes a day after the Environment Ministry and the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) told the Supreme Court that the cheetah deaths were due to “ natural causes” and not from electrocution or accidents.

The cheetahs are unlikely to be released back into the wild before the monsoon ends, the official cited earlier told The Hindu.

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