On Project Cheetah first anniversary, 9 big cats dead, 15 survive

Bhopal, Sep 17 : India???s ambitious ???project cheetah??? completed one year on Sunday after the first batch of eight Namibian cheetahs was released in Madhya Pradesh???s Kuno National Park (KNP) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his birthday on September 17, 2022. With 12 more cheetahs brought from South Africa on February 18 this year, a total 20 fastest running felines were released at KNP with a purpose of breeding them in India. The plan got success when Namibian female cheetah 'Siyaya' gave birth to four cubs in March this year. However, unfortunately, three out four cubs died in May due to heatstroke and malnutrition. The lone surviving female cheetah cub -- a remarkable milestone as the nation???s first cheetah birth in 75 years -- is now healthy, officials at KNP said. ???Having spent more than 100 days in close proximity to her mother, the cub has exhibited remarkable vitality, steadily gaining weight and following a standard growth trajectory. Born on Indian soil, this young cheetah holds the promise of a brighter future for cheetah conservation in the country,??? said the Kuno authority recently through an official communication. While, on the other side the project also witnessed back to back jolt as one after another cheetah died due to varied reasons, and raised apprehensions as well as political controversy in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh. A total of nine cheetahs, including three cubs, have died between March to August. The project witnessed its first jolt when Namibian female cheetah 'Sasha' succumbed to a kidney-related ailment on March 27. Two male African cheetahs 'Uday' and 'Daksha' died on April 13 and May 9 respectively. More shocking to the project came when two male cheetahs Tejas and Suraj died within a span of one week in July. Namibian female cheetah 'Dhatri' was found dead on August 2. Since then two pieces of good news came from Kuno, one that the female cheetah 'Nirva' who had gone out of radar, was captured and the lone surviving cub born in Indian soil is healthy now. On the eve of the first anniversary of the ???project cheetah???, Kuno authority released a video of the success story and praised the efforts of the forest guards deployed to monitor the felines. ???It???s been an amazing ride as we get ready to mark a year since the incredible reintroduction of cheetahs, the impact has been astounding, from revitalizing ecosystems to inspiring local communities,??? it said. If all goes according to the plan, cheetahs would be introduced at two more habitats in Madhya Pradesh -- Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary and Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary. Additional Director General of Forests at the Environment Ministry S.P. Yadav recently told the media that the next batch of cheetahs will be imported from South Africa and introduced into Madhya Pradesh's Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary by the end of this year. ???We are preparing two such sites in Madhya Pradesh, one is the Gandhi Sagar Sanctuary, and the other is Nauradehi,??? he added. /IANS


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