In a devastating blow to the ambitious cheetah reintroduction program, a male cheetah named Suraj met a tragic end today at Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh. This marks the eighth casualty among the big cats in a mere four-month span, shedding light on the challenges faced by these magnificent creatures in their new environment.
Suraj's lifeless body was discovered in the early hours of the morning, leaving park officials scrambling to determine the precise cause of death. The recent demise of another male cheetah, Tejas, just days ago adds to the mounting concerns surrounding the project. Autopsy findings revealed that Tejas succumbed to a "traumatic shock" resulting from a violent altercation with a female cheetah, further emphasizing the dangers these animals face within their own kind, according to media reports.
The loss of Suraj comes after the unfortunate deaths of Sasha, Uday, and Daksha, who fell victim to kidney ailment, cardio-pulmonary failure, and a violent mating attempt, respectively. Tragically, two cheetah cubs also perished due to extreme weather conditions and dehydration, highlighting the vulnerability of the younger members of this endangered species.
This series of fatalities not only represents a significant setback for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cheetah reintroduction initiative, launched with great hope in September last year but also raises questions about the project's management. While authorities have vehemently denied any lapses in their handling of the cheetahs, an official justified the deaths by referring to high infant mortality rates among cheetahs, citing global wildlife literature.