Cheetah Mother From Namibia Loses Three Of Her Four Babies In India

30 May 2023

The cheetah reintroduction programme in India has suffered another major setback. Three of the four babies born in March died last week. The fourth is apparently well. The mother had arrived in Kuno National Park in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh last September with seven other cheetahs from Namibia (see report).

The death of the first baby was noticed last Tuesday, reports Al Jazeera . When the other three appeared very weak on Thursday,veterinarians treated them. Two died anyway, but the condition of the fourth is stable. According to the report, the cubs were malnourished and severely dehydrated. The area was experiencing a heat wave with peak temperatures around 47 degrees. Experts suspect that the mother did not go hunting because of the heat. The chances of survival for cheetah cubs are generally considered very low.


Setback for the cheetah reintroduction programme in India: three of these four cubs of a cheetah pair from Namibia in Kuno National Park have died.
Photo (29 March 2023): Cheetah Conservation Fund


In March, the litter of the female cheetah from Namibia had caused jubilation. The gestation period for cheetahs is around 95 days. So the mating had taken place in the acclimatisation enclosure.

The father is one of the six animals from Namibia that now roam freely in Kuno National Park. Their movements are monitored by collar transmitters.

Namibian cheetahs leave the national park

This poses another problem for the project. Since the beginning of April, individual cheetahs have been spotted several times outside Kuno National Park near villages in the surrounding area (see reports in the Indian Economic Times). A project team followed the respective animal each time and tried to persuade it to return to the park. One female cheetah had to be anaesthetised and transported back.


The male cheetah from Namibia that left Kuno National Park in India several times and caused a stir in villages in the area.
Photo (November 2022): Cheetah Conservation Fund


Added to this is the death of three cheetahs. In March and April, a female from Namibia (kidney failure) and a male (probably stress) and a female from South Africa (severe injuries from a mating; see report). 17 of the 20 translocated cheetahs are still alive - 7 of the 8 from Namibia and 10 of the 12 from South Africa.

The reintroduction of the cheetah, which had been considered extinct in India since 1952, is a prestige project of the Indian government. Due to the setbacks, those responsible are under increasing pressure. The project was recommended by experts of the Cat Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature

(IUCN) after intensive discussions at a conference on the project in 2010 and was prepared for more than ten years. Laurie Marker, Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), is also a member of the Specialist Group. The CCF, based northeast of Otjiwarongo, is actively involved in the project.

Sven-Eric Stender

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