Skip to main content

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

Drones, Dogs Help Catch Cheetah Nirva In Kuno

Cheetah Translocation

Officials in the Union ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFC&C)  and those  involved in cheetah  translocation in Namibia and  South Africa heaved a huge sigh of relief after Nirva, the female cheetah  missing since July 21 was captured in Kuno national park. But the operation to capture Nirva was a huge exercise and, perhaps, has no parallel in the history of wildlife conservation in India.  Spreading over 150 hours stretched in 22 days, more than 100 forest department personnel, looked out for a cheetah in a rain drenched jungle. Day in , day out ,they walked on foot, rode elephants, flew drones and deployed dogs in search of the cheetah.  Hard work and perseverance paid off and Nirva was caught and captured. “Nirva is healthy and has been kept inside boma for further health check-up”, said Aseem Shrivastava, the chief wildlife warden of Madhya Pradesh.

 Nirva in Kuno was Like Needle in Haystack

South African Cheetah

Operation Nirva began in the backdrop of  three cheetah death- Tejas, Suraj and Tbilisi or Dhatri  between July 11 and August1-  and the reason for their demise was same-  septicemia  shock because of    satellite collar abrasion and growth of maggots in the wound.  Cheetah casualties rattled the officials derailing the ambitious first ever intercontinental cheetah introduction project. Officials decided to   recapture all the cheetahs in the wild to check their collars and prevent further loss of the animals. All but Nirva were caught and brought back to enclosures. Nirva’s collar had developed some technical snag and it stopped   emitting signals. Under the thick green cover of the dry deciduous Kuno,   locating a cheetah was like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack. It was still hot and humid and she still had a collar around her, however it was non functional, there were all the possibilities of abrasion and growth of maggots, the cause of the last three cheetah casualties.

Also readBringing African Cheetahs to India a Wrong Decision ? 

 As the officials were preparing for the worst, the search for Nirva began. All the available resources in Kuno were pooled together to launch a massive hunt   for the elusive animal. “Daily 15-20 sq km area was being searched. Along with this, villagers were informed about Nirva and any information received from them was immediately checked and verified”, said the PCCF (wildlife)  Aseem Shrivastava. There was a time when Nirva remained untraceable for over a week leading to apprehensions over her well being.

Longest Wait For Sunrise  

South African cheetah

When the marathon exercise was underway, the thermal night vision drones with thermal   turned out to be the most useful tool.  Two such cameras were deployed. It was a challenging task to operate the flying machines in the pitch dark jungle.  Working for long during unearthly hours at a stretch, drone operators started falling sick but the operation continued when Nirva was first located by one such sortie. There was a glimmer of hope. But the animal would soon vanish in the wild the next morning.  Tracking  her pugmarks the  forest  rangers and forest guards  would follow  the trail but  in vain. Mahouts  would  further penetrate the jungle terrain where the  green soldiers on foot  could reach but they also  failed to track the spotted cat. “Unlike tigers, cheetahs don't move out at night. It has an altogether different behavior. But  during the day it moves fast. `` said a wildlife expert.  There were occasions when Nirva was located but  was away from the reach of the 30 meters  range of the tranquilizing gun.  “A tiger may let veterinarians  armed with tranquilising guns and mahouts  reach closer but a wild cheetah  won’t”, said an officer.

Also read: Not Leopards, A Different 'Predator' is Killing Kuno Cheetahs

  “ In the morning of August 12 , suddenly the location from the satellite was received providing her location of August 11 evening. Few more locations were also received on the same day”, said the PCCF (wildlife) , Shrivastava.  Drone cameras confirmed the location on August -12 night. Amidst the nocturnal sounds of jungle, the drone team   positioned themselves  at the same place ,  a dog squad was deployed and the veterinarians  were ready with their tranquilizing guns. They waited for the sunrise. And it was the longst wait . At the crack of dawn, the  whole team proceeded closer to the cheetah. One of the vets fired a dart and it was bang on target. Nirva tried to run away  but soon collapsed  only to be caught by  the  jubilant Kuno  staffers.    “Nirva, the female South African cheetah captured successfully today (13/08/2023) morning at around 10 am in Dhoret range of Kuno National Park for health check-up”, said the PCCF (wildlife) after the capture. He said all the 15 cheetahs (7 males, 7 females and 1 female cub) in Kuno National Park are now in bomas and healthy and are continuously monitored on health parameters by the Kuno veterinary team. The weather is still   hot and humid  and cheetahs  collars are  yet to be replaced. They will remain in bomas  till the monsoon is  over  and will be released at the onset of winters.

By Deshdeep Saxena

Representational Images Courtsey Dr Adrian Tordiffe 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Fertility Stories Immortalise Collarwali Tigress of Pench Tiger Reserve

  She was a superstar of Pench tiger reserve . The tigress that livedmore than 16 years and delivered a record number of 29  cubs in8 litters died on January 15 evening. Collarwali, as she was fondly referred toafter a radio collar was put around her neck in 2008, was darling of wildlifetourists who would visit the tiger reserve. They would remember the tigress forher ‘catwalks’ on the pathways of the national park giving them ample opportunitiesto click pictures. She would make easy wildlife photography. Collarwali was immortalizedafter scores of national and international documentaries were made on her. The Departmentof Post in India issued a special cover envelope of Collarwali  on World Sparrow Day in 2015 Besides, NewZealand and Canada too issued personalized stamps on the tigress in the sameyear. The park director said she died because of old age complicationsin her intestine.  Apall of gloom descended over Pench while her funeral was performed on January 16. RIP Collarwali Offic

Tiger Corridor : Now Satpuda Melghat National Parks Connectivity At Risk

Much- hyped wildlife friendly NH7 passing   through the famous Kanha -Pench forest corridor and named after the two famous national parks should have 11.81 kms long under passes to let the wildlife have a safe passage. Instead the National Highways Authority of India (NHA) overlooked the rules and constructed only 4.41 km long underpasses compromising their dimensions.  Similarly in NH6, only 2.95 km of mitigation work was done against a schedule 8 kms length. Not everybody knows this truth.  Now NHAI seems to be completely violating the Wildlife (Protection) act 1973 while constructing a road patch on NH46 ( Hoshangabad -Betul). This is a functional tiger corridor connecting Melghat and Satpura tiger reserves. Now the connectivity is also as threatened as the tiger itself.  No Lessons Learnt From NH6 Kanha- Pench Corridor The reduced length of structures in  MH6  and NH7  -connecting East with the West and  North with the South  respectively -for safety of the wildlife could be achiev

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