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A Cheetah By The Tail

 Cheetah  rescue operations after they stray  away from the  safe confines  of  congested  Kuno national park  have been reported   regularly in India  since  September 2022 when  the  maiden  batch of African cat landed in India  amidst much fanfare. But the latest visuals of yet another such action- this time in  a crowded Rajasthan village in Karauli district-put a question mark again  on the safety of the animal.   This cheetah had to be handled physically in order to prevent it from falling into a ravine as it cornered at the crest of the ravine after darting amid a gathering of an huge crowd nearby. Pawan's Life Was At Risk  Rajasthan forest  department officials alerted Kuno  National Park authorities  about the cheetah leading them to a rescue operation. Pawan, the male cheetah had wandered into Rajasthan through Chambal river bank and was spotted by the local villagers who in turn informed the  local authorities. “Male cheetah Pavan was rescued from Karauli district in Raj

Plans Begin To Capture All Cheetahs To Remove Collars Amidst MoEFC&C Denial

    

Collared cheetah in Kuno

In a huge embarrassment to   senior  members of  the Steering Committee for Cheetah project and  international experts including Laurie Marker of Cheetah Conservation Fund(CCF), one of the biggest   names in cheetah conservation in the world, the Union ministry of Environment forest and climate change (MoEFC&C)  denied cheetah deaths due to collar wounds in Kuno national park. On Saturday- July 15 – Namibia based Laurie Marker and steering committee members including its head Dr Rajesh Gopal had confirmed the deaths due to collar wounds. 

Despite Dnial, Preps On To Cpture Cheetahs

Union MoEFC&C minister in Kuno

The MoEFC&C denial was issued when the officials were preparing to capture cheetahs to remove their collars   to prevent further casualties.Rattled by the 5 cheetah deaths including the two back to back  losses in the last three days, the MoEFC&C  issued a three page press release on Sunday afternoon. It said, “As per the preliminary analysis by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the apex body entrusted with the implementation of Project Cheetah, all mortalities are due to natural causes. There are reports in the media attributing these Cheetah deaths to other reasons including their radio collars etc.  Such reports are not based on any scientific evidence but are speculation and hearsay”. Of the 20 translocated cheetahs from South Africa and Namibia, five mortalities of adult individuals have been reported from Kuno national park, Madhya Pradesh, till date, the press release said. Project Cheetah is yet to complete a year and it will be premature to conclude the outcome in terms of success and failure, since Cheetah reintroduction is a long-term project, if further said. 

Also readNot Leopards, A Different 'Predator' is Killing Kuno Cheetahs

The ministry sources however, maintained that the  collar wound theory  was confirmed  after a Steering Committee Meeting on Saturday. “ Foreign members of the committee also attended online. The visuals of the cheetah wounds were shown in the meeting followed by confirmation of collar-wound  theory”,   a senior member of  the ministry said.  Another meeting of the committee is scheduled on Monday. After initial confusion over the injuries of Tejas and Suraj- the two male cheetahs- , experts realized the death was caused by septicemia resulting from the radio collars worn around their necks in the prevailing wet conditions in the monsoons. The deaths were not a result of wounds inflicted by other animals but were attributed to  bacteria infection.

More Cheetahs Develop Similar Symptoms

Collared cheetah in Kuno

Meanwhile, Kuno is buzzing with activities. Two more cheetahs- Pawan and Gaurav have both been found with similar neck injuries. Pawan’s collar was removed after tranquilising the cat. This is for the third time  that Pawan was tranquilised. He is the ame cheetah who had been wandering far away after his release in the wild. He was tranquilised twice in the past to bring him back to the enclosure. Gaurav is also found with the same neck injuries and is being treated. As the panic stricken Kuno staff started locating other cheetahs, they were not able to locate Nirva, a female, because of some  technical  fault in  the  collar  worn by the animal. 

Also read:Back to Back Cheetah Deaths in Kuno: South African Expert Unhappy Over Communication Gap

Another female cheetah Gamini  is  reportedly wandering outside Kuno in a hilly terrain and the monitoring team  was trying hard to locate her whereabouts in the rain drenched Kuno forests. Twenty cheetahs- 8 from Namibia in September last year and 12 from South Africa in February 2023-  were airlifted  to Kuno in  the much hyped  first ever inter-continental  cheetah  translocation project. Of them five had died in the last four months. There are 11  free ranging cheetahs in Kuno while 4 are still in enclosures. Three cheetah cubs also died a few months ago. One of them survived and is being reared in captivity.  

By Deshdeep Saxena

Representational  cheetah Images,  File pic of  Union MoEFC&C minister  Bhupendra  Singh Yadav driving an ATV in Kuno to track cheetah location 

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A Cheetah By The Tail

 Cheetah  rescue operations after they stray  away from the  safe confines  of  congested  Kuno national park  have been reported   regularly in India  since  September 2022 when  the  maiden  batch of African cat landed in India  amidst much fanfare. But the latest visuals of yet another such action- this time in  a crowded Rajasthan village in Karauli district-put a question mark again  on the safety of the animal.   This cheetah had to be handled physically in order to prevent it from falling into a ravine as it cornered at the crest of the ravine after darting amid a gathering of an huge crowd nearby. Pawan's Life Was At Risk  Rajasthan forest  department officials alerted Kuno  National Park authorities  about the cheetah leading them to a rescue operation. Pawan, the male cheetah had wandered into Rajasthan through Chambal river bank and was spotted by the local villagers who in turn informed the  local authorities. “Male cheetah Pavan was rescued from Karauli district in Raj