Some cheetahs to be shifted to new habitats due to lack of space at Kuno


Bhopal: Some of the cheetahs currently housed in Madhya Pradesh’ Kuno National Park (KNP) will be shifted to new habitats in the coming months. As per the forest officials, the proposal was already part of the ‘cheetah reintroduction project’ but the fresh proposal has been made following the sudden death of male African cheetah ‘Uday’ on Sunday.

The Madhya Pradesh Forest and Wildlife Department has written to the Centre for some alternative habitats for cheetahs translocated from South Africa. J. S. Chouhan, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), said the KNP spread over 748 sq kms has the capacity to accommodate a maximum of 21 cheetahs at one time. However, this number needs to be reduced to provide a larger area for each cheetah to roam in and also to ensure their safety.

“It will be a risk to keep all the cheetahs in one place and therefore, I have requested the Centre to find an alternative place to shift some of them,” J. S. Chouhan told IANS on Tuesday. However, he did not mention exactly how many cheetahs would be shifted from KNP.

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A total of 20 cheetahs (eight from Namibia and 12 from South Africa) were released in the KNP enclosure in two phases, out of which, two have died within a period of one month. Female Namibian cheetah ‘Sasha’ died of a kidney related aliment on March 27, while African male cheetah, who was given the name ‘Uday’ last week, died of cardiac arrest on Sunday.

As ‘Project Cheetah’ is monitored by the Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) under the supervision of the Ministry of Forest, it would finalise the new habitats and the number of cheetahs to be shifted. However, if sources are to be believed, at least four-five cheetahs (both male and female) would be shifted to a new habitat.

Sources told IANS that most likely the cheetahs would be shifted to Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve (MHTR), which is located in Rajasthan’s Kota district. As per the reports, cheetah experts have also recommended MHTR as the best possible site for cheetahs as it was also included in the risk management plan.

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( With inputs from )

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