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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

A Cheetah By The Tail

Cheetah Rescue

 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 


Cheetah rescue operation

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 Rajasthan under challenging conditions involving a ravine and a huge crowd of onlookers”, a release issued from the office of Rajasthan forest department. “Pawan was free ranging in Kuno National Park and crossed the inter-state boundary in the human dominated landscape early on May 4 morning. When the team from Kuno – some veterinarians-  arrived at the spot, there were a large number of onlookers shouting, making videos  and taking pics with their mobile phones . After Pawan was successfully darted , he started moving towards a ravine.  One of the veterinarians held  his tail and pulled  him back. 


“  Had he not been held  by his tail, the animal; would have been lost”,  an eye witness claimed. For the last over a year or so, Pawan and Veera, a female cat- had been roaming across the length and breadth of Kuno. Since April  last year, both the cats had  to be tranquilized multiple times  from as far as 150 kms away from Kuno. Would multiple tranquilisation  also lead to health issues  to the animal ?This should also be clarified.  Experts believe that  the cheetahs, known for moving a large distance-   keep   venturing out to explore new territories which is not allowed to them in Indian conditions as the  Indian national parks are surrounded by  thickly populated villages. It may lead to man animal conflict . Eight cheetahs from Namibia and 12 from South Africa were brought to Kuno National Park under cheetah introduction project two years ago. The park now has 27 cheetahs including 14 cubs, all of them inside enclosures.

Controversies Chase Cheetah Project 


Cheetah

After a spate of deaths  in the hot and humid weather conditions in August last year , all the cheetahs were darted and brought back to fenced enclosures for closer examination. Since then, all except  Pawan and Veera, continue to remain in enclosures called bomas, where they hunt and feed themselves. Only two animals are in the larger wild grasslands of the 748 sq-km of  Kuno but they too keep moving out  bringing back the debate over  two issues- whether India is suitable for free ranging cheetahs  because of small size of its national parks and  the carrying capacity of Kuno to sustain 20-21 cheetahs as envisaged in the cheetah action plan. African cheetahs roam around huge jungles, many of them are over 20,000 sq km in size  as compared to India jungles .


 The largest in India is Hemis national park; a high altitude park in Leh spread over 4,400 sq kms and is famous for snow leopard. India authorities have not been able to gather courage to release 20 cheetahs in Kuno and most of the life after they landed in India has been spent in small bomas. Among other things, the original idea was to develop the grasslands of India by conserving cheetahs.  But the way things stand today, it appears not only cheetah but the cheetah action plan has also strayed. “Is it a conservation project or an ill -conceived plan jeopardizing management of many other species   lacking funds for their protection projects”, a senior official of the Union ministry of  environment, forest and climate change commented. 

By Deshdeep Saxena

Banner Image: Video grab from  the cheetah rescue operation, second image  sourced  from Kuno National Park    

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