The authorities have decided to remove radio collars from 10 free ranging cheetahs at Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh following the death of two cheetahs within three days.
The move has come after two South African cheetah experts, including one travelling to India this week to aid officials at Kuno said that radio collars could be causing problems, reported The Indian Express.
Earlier, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), had said that reports of cheetah deaths due to radio collars were not based on scientific evidence, and that “all mortalities are due to natural causes”.
The report quoting Madhya Pradesh principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) J S Chauhan said: “We have a meeting on this issue tomorrow. An infection breaking out because of the radio collar due to the monsoon is a possibility. In these cases, because of high moisture, the cheetah may scratch its skin, which can break and an infection can break out after contact with a fly. It may also be one of the reasons for the cheetah deaths. We need a thorough examination to see if there are other causes. Both the cheetahs have similar organ damage — their kidneys, heart, spleen and kidneys were damaged. The radio collar is not the fatal issue, it can be a contributing factor and it must be addressed.”
However, MoEF&CC, in a press release had said reports of deaths caused due to radio collars were speculation and not based on scientific evidence.
“The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the apex body entrusted with the implementation of Project Cheetah, which comes under the ministry, in this release said that all mortalities are due to natural causes,”said the report.
“There are reports in the media attributing these cheetah deaths to other reasons including their radio collars, etc. Such reports are not based on any scientific evidence but are speculation and hearsay,” the release stated.
Of the 20 translocated cheetahs from South Africa and Namibia, five mortalities of adult individuals have been reported from Kuno National Park till date, the ministry stated.
The ministry has also had consultation with international cheetah experts and veterinary doctors from South Africa and Namibia.
It stated that the “existing monitoring protocols, protection status, managerial inputs, veterinary facilities, training and capacity building aspects are being reviewed by independent national experts”.