The last African cheetah, Nirva, in the wild in Madhya Pradesh's Kuno National Park has been missing for almost a month.
Cheetahs Dhatri, Sasha, Uday, Daksha, Suraj, Tejas, and three cubs have died at Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park – since March – less than a year since they were reintroduced with great vigour as part of India’s ambitious cheetah project. The ninth cheetah, Dhatri a female, out of the 20 cheetahs brought from South Africa died on August 3 after she went missing for a week.
Cheetah Conservation Fund in collaboration with the Kuno National Park vet team, conducted a post-mortem examination on Dhatri and found that she died from an infection due to maggot infestation (myiasis). With Dhatri’s death, only one more cheetah is left in the wild in Kuno and teams have been working to bring back Nirva for “comprehensive health assessments and any necessary treatments”, the CCF said.
One of the female cheetahs from Namibia, Dhatri (Tbilisi), has passed away. CCF’s Conservation Release Programme Manager, Barth Balli spent 10 day tracking her to get close enough for recapture. Though he could not capture her he saw that she had successfully hunted. pic.twitter.com/FOJnriUjil— Cheetah Conservation Fund (@CCFCheetah) August 3, 2023
According to a report by The Wire, Nirva’s radio collar had run into problems and is reportedly not working, which makes it difficult for the monitoring teams on ground to locate her. In fact, the death of nine cheetahs in Kuno has reignited the debate on radio-collaring animals and the purpose it serves.
The latest death came days after a scathing letter to the Supreme Court by South African and Namibian experts – all part of the Cheetah Project Steering Committee – expressed “serious concerns” about the management and complained of how their “expert opinions” were being “ignored”, and how they had to “beg” for information.
According to a report by The Indian Express, the letter dated July 15 was signed by South African veterinary wildlife specialist Dr Adrian Tordiffe on behalf of his colleagues – Cheetah specialist Vincent van der Merwe, and wildlife veterinarians Dr Andy Fraser and Dr Mike Toft. The experts flagged to the Supreme Court that the current management of the project had “little or no scientific training” and was ignoring their opinions. They wrote that they had become “mere window dressing” for the much-vaunted project, Express reported.