In a setback for the country’s ambitious cheetah population revival program, two more India-born cheetah cubs have died at the Kuno National Park (KNP) in Madhya Pradesh, a forest official said on Thursday.
It took the number of cheetah cubs who have died at the KNP to three, while three of the 20 adult cheetahs translocated from South Africa and Namibia have also died at the park. A cub’s death had been reported in the park on May 23. The two other cubs also died on the same day, on Tuesday afternoon, but their deaths were reported only on Thursday.
The official did not disclose the reason behind not informing about the deaths of these two cubs on the same day. The KNP houses cheetahs translocated from Namibia and South Africa as part of an ambitious project to revive their population in India after the species became extinct in the country seven decades ago. As per an official release, after the death of a cheetah cub on May 23, the forest department’s monitoring team kept an eye on the movements of female cheetah Jwala and her remaining three cubs. Jwala, earlier known as Siyaya, gave birth to four cubs in the last week of March after being translocated from Namibia in September last year.
The monitoring team found on May 23 that the condition of her remaining three cubs was not good and decided to rescue them for treatment. The daytime temperature then was around 46-47 degrees Celsius, the release said. The cubs were found severely dehydrated. Despite treatment, the two cubs could not be saved, it said. The condition of the fourth cub was stable, but it too was under intense treatment, it said. Earlier, Sasha, one of the translocated Namibian cheetahs, died due to a kidney-related ailment on March 27, and another cheetah, Uday, from South Africa, died on April 13.
Daksha, a cheetah brought from South Africa, succumbed to the injuries following a violent interaction with a male during a mating attempt on May 9 this year. The four cubs of Siyaya/Jwala were the first to be born in the wild on Indian soil after the last cheetah was hunted in Korea district of present-day Chhattisgarh in 1947. This fastest land animal species was declared extinct in the country in 1952. Five female and three male cheetahs brought from Namibia were released into enclosures at the KNP at an event attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 17, 2022. Another 12 cheetahs were brought from South Africa in February 2023 and housed in a quarantine enclosure.