One more cheetah dies in Kuno, 13 of original 20 remain

Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh’s Sheopur district is home to several cheetahs translocated from Namibia and South Africa

January 16, 2024 05:57 pm | Updated 11:00 pm IST - NEW DELHI

In this file image, cheetahs at Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh’s Sheopur district.

In this file image, cheetahs at Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh’s Sheopur district. | Photo Credit: PTI

One more cheetah — part of the group of 20 imported from Africa — has died, government officials confirmed on Tuesday. A post-mortem is under way and so the cause of death is so far unknown.

The cheetah, Shaurya, was of Namibian lineage and was “perfectly fine and healthy” until Monday, SP Yadav, a senior official with the National Tiger Conservation Authority and closely involved with Project Cheetah, told The Hindu.

This is the seventh death among the batch of 20 imported animals. On 4th January, a litter of three was born to one of the other Namibian cheetah. All in all, there are four India-born cubs that are alive in Sheopur.

On Tuesday morning, a team of wildlife officials observed that the animal had an unsteady gait. It was tranquilised and examined. The animal appeared to be “weak.”

“Following this the animal was revived but complications arose post revival. The animal failed to respond to CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation),” said a statement from government wildlife officials.

Held in enclosures

Last year, after a spate of deaths, all of the cheetahs were darted and brought back to a fenced enclosure for closer examination.

Since then, most of the animals continue to remain in one-square-kilometre enclosures called bomas, where they hunt and feed themselves. Only two animals are in the larger wild grasslands of the 748 sq-km, Kuno National Park, Sheopur, Madhya Pradesh.

“In the coming months, all of these animals are expected to be released into the wild. We are also in the process of preparing the Gandhi Sagar Park (Madhya Pradesh) for the next batch of cheetahs, likely later this year,” he added.

Officials from South Africa are expected to visit and inspect the landscape at the Gandhi Sagar Park before new batches of animals are brought in. Talks are also on with Kenya, Mozambique, and Somalia, to supply future batches of animals.

Some of the cheetahs who previously succumbed were suspected to have died from exposure to parasitic infections, seeded by the presence of the ‘winter coat’, a thick layer of fur, that the cats have evolved to keep themselves warm.

However, these coats may have retained excessive moisture during the summer and monsoon months in India. That would have allowed parasites to breed and proved fatal for some of the cats.

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