Noted wildlife activist Ajay Dubey has claimed that the death of two cheetahs at Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh’s Sheopur district was a failure of the state Forest Department’s wildlife management team.
Dubey said, “The death of the cheetahs is sad. There was hope and anticipation that the cheetahs, brought from Namibia and South Africa, would flourish here and their count would increase. It was hoped that the arrival of the cheetahs would also deal a huge boost to the local economy while also furthering tourism.
However, because of the failure of the Forest Department’s wildlife management team, the cheetahs are dying. While the first cheetah was said to have died due to a kidney problem, no report ascertaining the cause of death has yet been made public. The second cheetah had no apparent health issues, he claimed.
“A fitness report of cheetahs is submitted daily and CCTV footage is monitored 24 hours. Wildlife experts from Namibia and South Africa are here and our wildlife expert also received training from South Africa. However, we are still not managing to rein in cheetah deaths at Kuno. It is very unfortunate. The state government should institute a probe and identify lapses, if any,” the activist added.
“Cheetahs are very sensitive and they don’t even hunt at night. They crave a healthy environment. The unnatural death of the cheetah represents the failure of the wildlife officers who received training in Africa. It seems there was too much stress and the cheetahs couldn’t take it,” he added.
On the state government requesting the central government to shift the cheetahs to another suitable habitat, he added, “Kuno National Park is spread over 720 square kilometres and 40 cheetahs can live in it. The area is not small. Most of the cheetahs are kept locked in big enclosures, they are not free yet.
The state government has said it would request the Centre to shift the cheetahs to another state. It was decided at the technical meeting of the Nodal Committee of NTCA in 2021 that the cheetahs would be kept at Darrah enclosure of Mukundara Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan.
Three cheetahs, one male, three female, were to be shifted and all the arrangements were made, Dubey claimed. Cheetah ‘Uday’, brought from South Africa died on 23 April evening while Namibian cheetah ‘Sasha’ died on 27 March.