A Namibian cheetah named Shaurya died in the Kuno National Park in India on Tuesday, reminding international specialists of the various obstacles in the journey towards cheetah conservation.
Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism spokesperson Romeo Muyunda says although deaths have been reported, the hope is that the project would reach its objective of re-establishing India’s cheetah population.
“It is our wish that the remaining cheetahs, including the newborns, will finally adapt to that environment as we move into the second year of that project.
“The main aim is that we diversify the cheetah population as opposed to being concentrated in one area, with Namibia having the highest population,” he says.
The Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (APCCF) and Director Lion Project reported that Shaurya was tranquilised after park rangers noticed a stagger in her walk, however, the cheetah died due to complications.
“The animal was revived, but complications arose after revival and the animal failed to respond to cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The cause of death can be ascertained after a post-mortem,” the report states.
The cheetah reintroduction project relocated eight Namibian cheetahs, five females and three males, to the Kuno National Park in September 2022.
Another 12 cheetahs were relocated from South Africa last year.
Shaurya’s death brings the total number of deaths of imported cheetahs since March last year to 10 – seven adults and three cubs.
The park, however, also celebrated new life earlier this month.
On 3 January, the Indian minister of environment, forest and climate change, Bhupender Yadav, announced the birth of three cheetah cubs in the Indian Kuno National Park.
The founder of the Cheetah Conservation Fund, Laurie Marker, says the birth of three cubs signifies progress in the harrowing journey to stabilise the species worldwide.
“We are excited about the success of India’s cheetah project with their announcement of the birth of a new litter of cheetah cubs in India’s Kuno National Park. We were especially pleased to hear that the cubs were born to the cheetahs translocated from Namibia.
“The death of three cubs from the historic first litter last year was deeply saddeningm and it underscores the larger, more pressing issue: the steadily declining state of cheetah populations in the wild,” she says.
A cheetah called Aasha arrived in Kuno on 17 September 2022 in a crate marked ‘Aasha – The Hope’.
India once had a thriving cheetah population which became extinct in 1952 due to hunting and habitat loss.
The Cheetah Conservation Fund has worked to mitigate the threats to the species.
“In countries like Namibia, the Cheetah Conservation Fund has worked tirelessly to stabilise the number of cheetahs by mitigating the threats to the species. We’ve had regional success, but the species will still decline unless one approach to species conservation is adopted,” Marker says.
“The cheetah’s survival hinges on efforts like these. It is not just about increasing numbers, but about establishing genetically viable, diverse populations across their former range. The challenges are many and losses may occur, but each step forward is vital,” she says.
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