Another cheetah died on Tuesday in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park, marking the seventh such death since March, PTI reported. Prior to this, three out of the 20 cheetahs that had been translocated from South Africa and Namibia last year and three cubs born in India had died.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Wildlife JS Chauhan said that male cheetah, Tejas, died on Tuesday due to suspected infighting. Tejas was in an enclosure at the time of the incident, Chauhan said.
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.
In June, Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav had said that the government takes full responsibility for the deaths of the cheetahs.
“It’s an international project and we had anticipated mortality,” Yadav had said, according to NDTV. “One of the cheetahs was unwell before it even came to India. We have provided the reasons for the deaths of the two other [adult] cheetahs.”