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NTCA to SC: Cheetah deaths at Kuno National Park concerning, but not overly alarming.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests and the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) submitted a joint affidavit to the Supreme Court regarding the death of cheetahs at Kuno National Park (KNP). They stated that the deaths are concerning but not “unduly alarming.” The surviving cheetahs are being captured and medically examined as a precautionary measure.

As part of Project Cheetah, 20 radio-collared animals were imported to KNP from Namibia and South Africa, and later four cubs were born. Out of the 24 feline, eight, including three cubs, have died, with some developing infections due to radio collars.

The affidavit assured that the mortality events were due to “natural causes,” and no cheetahs died from unnatural reasons like poaching or accidents. The survival rates of introduced cheetah populations are generally low, with only around 10 percent survival rate in cubs.

A steering committee of experts oversees the implementation of Project Cheetah, ensuring the well-being of the surviving cheetahs. Veterinary care and medical attention are provided to support their survival in the natural ecosystem.

To address the recent deaths, all remaining cheetahs are being captured and medically examined. Prophylactic treatment is being administered to the surviving cheetahs, and a review of project implementation is underway.

The Supreme Court had expressed concern over the cheetah deaths and asked the Centre to explore the possibility of shifting the animals to different sanctuaries. The Centre filed an application seeking direction to discontinue the expert committee’s guidance and proceed with cheetah introduction from African countries as per the action plan. A memorandum of understanding was signed with Namibia and South Africa for the introduction of 8-14 cheetahs annually for the next five years.


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