India's cheetah project hit hard, sees 9 deaths since March

India's cheetah project hit hard, sees 9 deaths since March

Another cheetah dies at Kuno national park on Wednesday in India's Madhya Pradesh state, say officials

By Anadolu Staff

ANKARA (AA) - Another cheetah has died at a national park in India's central state of Madhya Pradesh, taking the number of cat deaths to 9 since May this year.

"Today morning, one of the female cheetahs - Dhatri (Tiblisi) -- was found dead. To determine the cause of the death, a post-mortem is being conducted," a statement issued by authorities in Madhya Pradesh said on Wednesday.

In September last year, the fastest terrestrial animal was reintroduced into India, 70 years after it was formally declared extinct in 1952 due to massive hunting and poaching.

Eight large cats from Namibia and 12 from South Africa have been so far shifted to Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh, their new sanctuary.

In March this year, India announced the birth of four cubs to one of the eight cheetahs that were relocated from Namibia.

Also, in the same month, the forest department announced the death of the first adult cat.

From March till last month, five adult cheetahs and three cubs died, the Indian parliament was informed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change last week in a written response.

The ministry cited Chronic renal failure, Cardiopulmonary failure and Traumatic Shock as the cause of death in adult cats. Three Indian-born cubs of nearly two months of age died on May 23, due to "heat stroke," the ministry said.

With today's death, 14 adults and one cub remain in the ambitious project of the Indian government.

While the government is confident that the translocation of cheetahs will be successful, many experts in the country have expressed skepticism about the government’s ambitious project to reintroduce them into Indian forests.

Former Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, who is also a senior leader of the main opposition Indian National Congress party on Wednesday criticized the government for the fresh death.

"Something has really gone wrong at Kuno," he wrote on social media platform X, formerly Twitter. "This is what happens when science and transparency take a backseat."

Local English daily The Indian Express reported on Wednesday that South African and Namibian experts, all members of the national cheetah project steering committee under which 20 cheetahs have been translocated to India beginning last September, have written to the Indian top court expressing their anguish over being kept in the dark and have raised “serious concerns” over the project’s management.

The Supreme Court of India last month was informed by the Indian government, that the death of 50 % of the cheetahs was not ‘alarming’ and actually anticipated, legal Indian news portal Live Law reported.

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