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Eighth cheetah dies at Kuno National Park

While there are speculations on whether the injuries were caused by other wild animals like leopards, there is no official word.
alyan Ray
Last Updated : 14 July 2023, 16:43 IST
Last Updated : 14 July 2023, 16:43 IST
Last Updated : 14 July 2023, 16:43 IST
Last Updated : 14 July 2023, 16:43 IST

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In less than 72 hours, yet another South African cheetah died at the Kuno national park on Saturday, the first free-ranging animal to die, just days after it was released into the wild.

The male cheetah Suraj was found lying still in Palpur East Forest Range’s Masavani beat by a monitoring team on Friday morning.

When they went closer, they found insects hovering over its neck but then it rose and ran away, said an official. A team of veterinarians and forest officials rushed to the spot, but the cheetah was found dead around 9 am, the official said.

“This is for the first time that a cheetah died in the free range,” he said, observing that there were injury marks on his back and neck, and a detailed report was awaited.

While there are speculations on whether the injuries were caused by other wild animals like leopards, there is no official word. The Union Environment Ministry has not responded to the queries.

India brought 20 cheetahs from Namibia and South Africa as a part of the Centre’s effort to re-populate the central Indian landscape with African cheetah seven decades after the Asian cheetah went extinct from India. Five have died and four are in the enclosure. In addition, a litter of four cubs were born in March, but three of them died on a single day in May.

“Today should have been a day of unadulterated joy with the launch of Chandrayaan-3. Sadly, the news has just come in that the eighth cheetah has died at Kuno,” said Congress leader and former Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh.

“The expert group would surely be examining what is going wrong repeatedly. All that can be hoped for is that conservation science prevails over political prestige,” he said on Twitter, taking a dig at the government.

The death of Suraj comes less than three days after another South African cheetah, Tejas, died under mysterious circumstances. It was found dead inside the enclosure with injury marks on the neck.

Officials on Wednesday said the death of Tejas was under investigation and details would be shared once the investigation is over. But since then there has not been any word.

A summary of Tejas’s post-mortem report said the “external wounds on the back neck were superficial, only on the skin, not deep”, but the cheetah’s lungs, heart, spleen and kidney were “not in normal condition”.

“Heart was having chicken fat in aorta and auricle. Kidney was pulpy and no demarcation was found between cortex and medulla. Spleen was having emphysema and white nodules. Due to this compromised health condition, it probably could not recover from the trauma caused by external injuries,” it said.

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Published 14 July 2023, 10:49 IST

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