Two more cheetah cubs have died in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park, the authorities said on Thursday, ANI reported. A third cub is under treatment in a serious but stable condition.
Another cub, part of the same litter born to female cheetah named Jwala, had died on Tuesday. Jwala is one of 20 felines of the endangered species translocated from South Africa and Namibia to India last year.
The two deaths reported on Thursday pushes the toll to six, including three full-grown cheetahs, who have died in the Kuno National Park in less than two months. The first cheetah, Sasha, had died due to a kidney ailment on March 27. The second feline, Uday, died due to cardio-pulmonary failure on April 24. The third one, Daksha, died during a mating attempt on May 9.
On Thursday, the authorities said that after the first cub died on Tuesday, Jwala and three of her remaining offspring were put under observation.
“In the afternoon [on Tuesday], the cubs did not seem to be in normal condition,” the press note stated. It added that the temperature on Tuesday hit nearly 47 degrees Celsius and loo winds swept through the Kuno National Park.
“Two cubs could not be saved despite taking all necessary steps,” the press note said. “The other cub is in a critical condition and is under treatment”. All the cubs were found to be weak, underweight and extremely dehydrated, the authorities said.
Last week, the Supreme Court had expressed concern about the deaths and asked the Centre to consider shifting the felines to an alternate location. The court, citing expert opinions and news articles about the deaths, had said that the Kuno National Park may not be sufficient to accommodate so many cheetahs.
The cheetahs were reintroduced to India seven decades after the species was declared extinct in the country. The cheetah was officially declared extinct by the Indian government in 1952. The wild cats were last recorded in the country in 1948, when three cheetahs were shot in the Sal forests in Chhattisgarh’s Koriya District.
In February, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that India has a chance to restore an element of biodiversity that had been lost long ago by reintroducing the felines.
However, experts say that India does not have the habitat or prey species for African cheetahs and that the project may not fulfil its aim of grassland conservation.