Second cheetah dies after relocation to India as part of conservation efforts
India’s wildlife department said the male, called Uday, died at the Kuno National Park on Sunday in central Madhya Pradesh state, according to CNN’s affliate News18.
The cause of death was not immediately known and authorities will perform a post-mortem to find out more, the outlet reported.
Uday was one of 12 cheetahs flown across the ocean from South Africa in February. Sasha hails from another group of eight sent from Namibia in September last year.
South African veterinarian Adrian Tordiffe, who helped coordinate the move earlier, said experts were investigating various possibilities and awaiting tests for further confirmation.
“At this stage, it appears to be a rare random cause that is unlikely to pose any risk to the other cheetahs,” he said, adding that possible causes could range from severe botulism to a snake bite.
Laurie Marker, founder of the Namibia-based Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), which also helped with transferring the animals, said re-establishing a population is very difficult.
“Losses are to be expected and for unexpected reasons,” he said. “We are looking at populations which individuals are a part of and we all care about these individuals, but we also have to think of the big picture.”
While two cheetahs have died since being reintroduced, the overall population has nonetheless grown.
In late March, the country welcomed four newborn cheetahs for the first time since the species disappeared from India more than 70 years ago.
Cheetahs were declared extinct in India in 1952, but the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change hopes they’ll be able to bring the species back.
The animals chosen were selected “based on an assessment of health, wild disposition, hunting skills, and ability to contribute genetics that will result in a strong founder population,” according to CCF’s earlier statement.
The cheetahs were first sent to a quarantine enclosure before being moved to acclimatization zones and eventually released into the park’s hunting enclosures.
Cheetahs are found in southern and eastern Africa, particularly in Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, and Tanzania, with less than 7,000 left in the wild, according to the World Wide Fund (WWF).