Why Are Cheetah Cubs Dying In Kuno Reserve?


Three of the four cheetah cubs who were born this week in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park perished naturally. In response, the government established a fresh panel of specialists to keep an eye on Project Cheetah.

Points to Ponder:

  • In order to reintroduce the Asiatic cheetah, in particular the subspecies Acinonyx jubatus venaticus, which had gone extinct in the nation over 70 years earlier, Project Cheetah was started in India.
  • The idea called for bringing cheetahs from Namibia and South Africa to Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park.
  • The reintroduction strategy has flaws, according to three scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, Germany.
  • The high cheetah density in Kuno National Park’s allocated area is one cause for concern. According to the researchers, other free-ranging African cheetah populations in unfenced areas have not experienced such high densities.
  • Cheetahs often inhabit unfenced regions at a density of one per 100 square kilometres. However, the carrying capacity for cheetahs in Kuno National Park was estimated to be 21 individuals based on prey density, or three cheetahs per 100 square kilometres.
  • Adult males form territories that are 20–23 km apart as part of the sociospatial organisation of cheetahs. Three male cheetahs from Namibia would undoubtedly take over the entire national park if they were introduced, leaving no room for more males from South Africa.
  • Concerns have been raised following the recent deaths of three cheetah cubs in Kuno National Park. Extreme heat, exhaustion, and starvation have all been identified as the death’s causes. Compared to other big cats, cheetah cubs in the wild have a high death rate.
  • In response to the deaths of the cubs, the Indian government has established a new council of specialists to oversee Project Cheetah.
  • Over the next ten years, Project Cheetah hopes to build a self-sufficient population of roughly 35 cheetahs. India’s strategy is to allow cheetahs to develop in the wild, unfenced environment, as opposed to South Africa’s and Namibia’s enclosed cheetah reserves.
  • The project, according to some detractors, has certain fundamental problems, such as the placement of all 20 cheetahs in Kuno National Park, which they contend has constrained space and a scarcity of prey. They contend that some animals ought to have been transferred to different reserves, such as Mukundara in Rajasthan.
  • Officials in charge of overseeing the cheetah reintroduction in Madhya Pradesh have acknowledged that they are under pressure. The National Tiger Conservation Authority, the project’s coordinating organisation, believes Kuno can accommodate the initial group of animals, and subsequent cheetahs will be moved to other reserves.
  • The success of tiger, lion, and leopard conservation programmes in the nation has been attributed to cultural beliefs that encourage coexistence with animals, which make it impossible to exactly reproduce the experience of raising cheetahs in gated reserves in Africa in India.