By: Shubham Ghosh
More than six months after getting translocated along with seven other big cats to Kuno National Park (KNP) in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh from Namibia, a cheetah named Sasha died due to a kidney ailment on Monday (27), a top forest department official said.
The death of the more than four-and-a-half years old female feline is being seen as a setback to Project Cheetah, aimed at reviving the population of the world’s fastest land animal in India, seven decades after they became extinct.
Eight cheetahs were brought from Namibia in mid-September last year and housed in the KNP in Sheopur district of the state. Sasha died because of a kidney ailment which she was suffering from even before her translocation from Namibia, principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF-Wildlife) JS Chauhan told the Press Trust of India.
“A monitoring team found Sasha lazy on March 22, following which they decided to take her to a quarantine enclosure for treatment,” he said.
The wild animal’s blood sample was collected the same day and examined.
A wildlife expert armed with a portable ultrasound machine went inside the KNP to examine the ailing cheetah and it was found that Sasha’s kidneys were infected, said Chauhan.
Later, senior Wildlife Institute of India (WII) scientists and KNP management contacted the Cheetah Conservation Fund, Namibia, to know the treatment history of Sasha.
They found that in her last blood sample, collected on August 15, 2022, (a month before being translocated to KNP), the animal’s creatinine level was 400 (an indicator of poor kidney function), he said.
The high creatinine level clearly established that the feline was suffering from a kidney ailment even before she was translocated to the KNP, Chauhan said in a statement.
Namibian wildlife experts and KNP veterinary doctors worked hard day and night to cure Sasha, but the animal did not survive, the forest official said.
The seven other cheetahs are doing well.
Among these seven, three male and a female were released in the park’s open forest area and they are “totally healthy, active and hunting in a normal manner”, the statement said.
Twelve cheetahs brought to the KNP from South Africa last month are at present housed in a quarantine enclosure and they are healthy and active, it added.
The eight Namibian cheetahs – five female and three male – were released into their enclosures at the KNP on September 17 at an event attended by prime minister Narendra Modi.
Before the latest ones, the last cheetah died in India in Koriya district of present-day Chhattisgarh in 1947 and the fastest land animal was declared extinct in the country in 1952.
(With PTI inputs)