Kuno National Park (KNP) in Madhya Pradesh witnessed a second cheetah fatality in less than a month as a male feline named Uday, translocated from South Africa in February, died on Sunday, officials said.
The deceased cheetah was six years old.
The incident is seen as a major setback for the ambitious ‘Project Cheetah’ under which 20 felines were translocated to KNP in Sheopur district from Namibia and South Africa in separate batches in September 2022 and February this year.
One of the eight Namibian cheetahs, Sasha, aged more than four-and-a-half-years, died of a kidney ailment at KNP on March 27. ”During the inspection in the morning, a cheetah (Uday) brought from South Africa was found dull with head down following which veterinarians attending him alerted senior officials and the feline was taken out from the large enclosure for treatment. Unfortunately, around 4 pm, the cheetah passed away,” Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) Wildlife, J S Chauhan told PTI on Sunday.
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The exact cause of the feline’s death is not identified yet.
An official release said the officials found Uday sluggish in his boma (enclosure) and a closer inspection revealed he was staggering.
”As per the inspection conducted on Saturday evening, Uday was found healthy. During inspection on Sunday morning, the medical team found that the cheetah was ailing. Following a due process, the cheetah was tranquilised on the advice of wildlife veterinarians and treatment was started at 11 AM,” it said.
The cheetah was treated under the monitoring of wildlife vets and kept in the isolation ward but he died at around 4 PM, the release said.
The exact cause of the death will be known after the postmortem report.
The ‘Project Cheetah’ was launched last September to reintroduce the species in India, decades after it became extinct. The country’s last cheetah died in Koriya district of present-day Chhattisgarh in 1947 and the species was declared extinct in 1952.
Eight Namibian cheetahs, comprising five females and three males, were brought to the KNP with a core area of 748 sq km and its surrounding 487 sq km buffer zone, as part of the ambitious reintroduction programme. They were released into special enclosures on September 17, 2022, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On February 18 this year, 12 cheetahs, comprising seven males and five females, were brought to the KNP from South Africa.
Another cheetah, named Siyaya, recently gave birth to four cubs in KNP.