One of the cheetahs translocated to Madhya Pradesh's Kuno National Park (KNP) from South Africa died on Sunday, a senior forest official said. The deceased cheetah 'Uday' aged six years.
Notably, this is the second such incident at KNP in almost a month. Earlier, Namibian cheetah Sasha died due to a kidney ailment on March 27.
The incident is seen as a major setback for the ambitious 'Project Cheetah' under which 20 felines were translocated to KNP in Sheopur district from Namibia and South Africa in separate batches in September 2022 and February this year.
Madhya Pradesh | Another Cheetah, Uday, who was brought from South Africa, has died during treatment after falling ill at Kuno National Park. Reason for death is yet to be ascertained: MP Chief Conservator of Forest JS Chauhan pic.twitter.com/2IHPMCji2L— ANI (@ANI) April 23, 2023
“During the inspection in the morning, a cheetah brought from South Africa was found dull with head down following which veterinarians attending him alerted senior officials and the feline was taken out from the large enclosure for treatment. Unfortunately, around 4 pm, the cheetah passed away,” principal chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) Wildlife, J S Chauhan told PTI.
The dead cheetah was identified as Uday, another forest official said. The exact cause of the feline's death is not identified yet.
An official release said the officials found Uday sluggish in his boma (enclosure) and a closer inspection revealed he was staggering. "As per the inspection conducted on Saturday evening, Uday was found healthy. During inspection on Sunday morning, the medical team found that the cheetah was ailing. Following a due process, the cheetah was tranquilised on the advice of wildlife veterinarians and treatment was started at 11 AM," it said.
According to a report by NDTV, 18 cheetahs now remain of the 20 that were brought to India as part of the world's first intercontinental translocation project that aimed at reintroducing big cats in the country.
The 'Project Cheetah' was launched last September to reintroduce the species in India, decades after it became extinct. The country's last cheetah died in Koriya district of present-day Chhattisgarh in 1947 and the species was declared extinct in 1952.
Eight Namibian cheetahs, comprising five females and three males, were brought to the KNP with a core area of 748 sq km and its surrounding 487 sq km buffer zone, as part of the ambitious reintroduction programme. They were released into special enclosures on September 17, 2022, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On February 18 this year, 12 cheetahs, comprising seven males and five females, were brought to the KNP from South Africa. Another cheetah, named Siyaya, recently gave birth to four cubs in KNP.
(With inputs from PTI)