Chasing Cheetah – on cheetah reintroduction

Source: The post is based on the article “Chasing Cheetah” published in Business Standard on 25th July 2023.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Environment

Relevance: concerns associated with cheetah’s introduction in Kuno National Park

News: The deaths of five adult cheetahs and three cubs in Kuno National Park, have raised concerns about the PM’s project to introduce cheetahs from South Africa and Namibia.

About the recent death of cheetah

Read Here: Radio collars are killing the cheetahs in Kuno. Here is how — and why

Why does the cheetah’s death not raise significant worries?

The experience of cheetah relocations within Africa suggests a 50% death rate and this was taken into consideration while introducing cheetah into the Kuno.

The survival rate of cheetah cubs, even in protected ecosystems like the Serengeti plains, is typically 5-10%. Therefore, the deaths of three cubs, the first to be born in India in over 70 years, are not unexpected.

What are the challenges with the Cheetah’s relocation project?

Effectiveness of Project Management: Concerns have been raised about the efficacy of project management, particularly regarding the deaths of four of the five adult cheetahs in captivity.

For instance, one male cheetah was found disoriented, without any explanation provided. Another cheetah was underweight and had pre-existing health conditions, raising concerns about its care in captivity.

Prolonged Captivity: Some wildlife biologists have expressed concerns about the prolonged captivity of cheetahs. International standards recommend one month of quarantine and four to eight weeks in an acclimatization enclosure before releasing them into the wild.

However, the cheetahs from Namibia, who arrived in September 2022, were released into the wild in mid-March instead of mid-December.

Degree of Intervention: Concerns have been raised about the extent of interference with cheetahs in the wild. Injured females or males fighting for territory are rescued, deviating from the established practice of allowing nature to take its course.

What can be the way ahead?

Project Cheetah needs to be evaluated, especially when lions in Gir are facing habitat issues.

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