Another African Cheetah Dies at Kuno National Park

Another African Cheetah Dies at Kuno National Park

Bhopal: India’s ambitious Project Cheetah encountered another setback with the demise of Shaurya, a male cheetah imported from Namibia in September 2022. This brings the total cheetah fatalities in Kuno National Park to ten—seven adults and three cubs—since March 2023.

The cause of Shaurya’s death remains uncertain, and the project’s director stated that a post-mortem examination will be necessary to determine the exact cause. The incident unfolded when the tracking team noticed incoordination and a staggering gait around 11 am. The animal was tranquilized, revealing weakness upon examination. Despite attempts to revive, complications emerged post-revival, and the cheetah did not respond to CPR.

Project Cheetah, a government initiative, seeks to reintroduce cheetahs into the wild in India, where they became extinct nearly seven decades ago. A total of 20 cheetahs were relocated from Namibia and South Africa in two batches—the first in September 2022 and the second in February 2023.

The recent series of cheetah deaths has raised concerns, with experts citing various potential factors such as intra-species fights, diseases, injuries during hunting, attacks by other animals, and heatstroke. Controversy surrounds the use of radio collars, with experts suggesting that these tracking devices may have caused skin infections, leading to maggot infestations and septicaemia. In response, efforts were made to remove the radio collars.

The mortality toll began in March 2023, including deaths like that of a female cheetah named Dhatri in August 2023 and Namibian cheetah Sasha in March due to kidney complications. Subsequent casualties include Uday in April, Daksha in May following a “violent interaction” during mating, and three cubs born in July. Two male cheetahs, Tajas and Suraj, also succumbed in July due to multiple organ failure.

Project Cheetah is now under scrutiny, prompting experts to assess and address the various factors contributing to the untimely deaths of these endangered animals.