The Madhya Pradesh government has reported the death of another cheetah Dhatri(Tiblisi) at the Kuno National Park in Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh on 2 August 2023. A total of nine cheetahs including three cubs have died in the Kuno National park in the last five months since they were relocated from Namibia and South Africa .
According to the Principal Chief Conservator of forest (Wildlife) Madhya Pradesh Assem Srivastava almost every death of the cheetahs in the Kuno park has been due to natural causes. In March, female cheetah Sasha died due to kidney failure, Uday died due to cardio-pulmonary failure on 23 April.The cheetah cubs died due to ‘extreme weather conditions and dehydrations”.
The vast majority of the 7,000 cheetahs in the world are now found in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.In Asia wild cheetahs are found only in Iran.
Other reasons for death of Cheetah in the Kuno National park
Various reasons are being put forward for the possible cause of death . Some of the reasons are follows:
Infection due to radio collar
Wildlife experts use radio collaring to study the activity of wildlife in jungles. A radio collar is put on the body of the wild animals or birds to track the movement and activity pattern of the tagged animals or birds. Information obtained from the use of radio telemetry is of high scientific and conservation value. But it also causes problems .
Suraj and Tejas cheetahs died due to septicaemia(blood poisoning). The radio collar led to skin abrasion which caused maggot infestation . The prevailing hot and humid condition in the park aggravated the infection leading to septicaemia and finally death.
Conflict with another animals
The Wildlife Institute of India in its report Action Plan for Introduction of Cheetahs in India has pointed to the possibility of conflict with other animals in the wild as the cause of death of cheetha’s . At present the density of leopards in the Kuno park is 9 individuals per 100 sq.Km.
According to the Institute report conflict between animals in the wild is natural and cheetahs are often killed by tigers,lions or other animals in Africa . This could also be one of the causes of death in India .
Death due to intra -species conflict
According to the Wildlife Institute report death could also happen due to injuries suffered by cheetahs while hunting or fighting amongst themselves. Female cheetah Diksha died after a violent interaction with a male during a mating attempt on 9 May 2023.
High mortality rates of Cheetah in Wild
According to the wildlife experts even in Africa the survival rates of cheetahs are low. Also the relocated cheetahs are yet to adjust to a new environment in India and experts say that high death rates of cheetahs are expected till they adjust to the conditions in India .
Cheetah Relocation project
Cheetah (Scientific name -Acinonyx jubatus),world’s fastest animal was declared extinct in India in 1952.
In 2009 the government of India started a project to relocate the cheetah in India.
In 2022 the government of India announced a five year plan to relocate 50 cheetahs in various national parks .
Prime Minister Modi released eight cheetahs brought from Namibia at the Kuno National Park on the occasion of his birthday on 17 September 2022. Later 12 more cheetahs were brought from South Africa in February 2023.
The Cheetah Relocation Project is being overseen by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Union Ministry of Environment ,Forest and Climate Change in partnership with the Madhya Pradesh government.
The project is guided and directed by the committee of experts designated by the Supreme Court of India .
Kuno National park
The Kuno National Park lies in the Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh near Vindhyan Hills of central India .
It derives its name after the Kuno River which is the tributary of Chambal river .
It was initially established as a wildlife sanctuary but was later made a National Park in 2018.
It is spread across 748 sq.km of area within the larger Kuno Wildlife Division .
It is home to leopards ,sloth bears ,wolves,hyena etc.