10 arrested for hunting, land encroachment near Kuno National Park - Hindustan Times
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10 arrested for hunting, land encroachment near Kuno National Park

PTI | | Posted by Lingamgunta Nirmitha Rao
Aug 05, 2023 06:23 PM IST

Kuno National Park has been under spotlight ever since eight Namibian cheetahs – 5 female and 3 male – were released into enclosures there last September.

Ten persons have been arrested for their alleged involvement in forest crimes, including hunting and tree-cutting, near the Kuno National Park (KNP), the home of cheetahs, in Madhya Pradesh’s Sheopur district, officials said on Saturday.

In February this year, 12 more cheetahs arrived at KNP from South Africa. (ANI)
In February this year, 12 more cheetahs arrived at KNP from South Africa. (ANI)

These persons were arrested from the Karahal forest range, some 40 km from KNP boundaries, officials said.

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Also Read | Post-mortem report reveals female cheetah at Kuno died of ‘myiasis’

The accused, including four from Rajasthan, were taken into custody in connection with tree-cutting, encroachment and hunting, the forest department said in a press release.

Two axes, a ‘gofan’ (sling) and five nooses that are used in hunting were seized from their possession, it said.

Karahal’s Forest Range Officer Satyendra Singh Dhakad said that the accused have been booked under Indian Forest Act and Wildlife (Protection) Act. They were presented before a court before being sent to jail, he said.

KNP has been under the spotlight ever since eight Namibian cheetahs – five female and three male – were released into enclosures there last September under the Cheetah Reintroduction Project. In February this year, 12 more cheetahs arrived at KNP from South Africa.

Also Read | MP: Female cheetah found dead at Kuno; ninth casualty in four months

Later, four cubs were born to the Namibian cheetah ‘Jwala’ in March, though three of them died in May due to extreme heat.

KNP’s Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) PK Verma said that the 10 people allegedly involved in forest crimes were nabbed from a jungle, about 40 km from the protected park’s boundaries.

Fourteen cheetahs – seven male, six female and a female cub that is being hand-raised – are kept in enclosures in Kuno, while one female is in the open at present. A team comprising wildlife veterinarians from Kuno and a Namibian expert regularly monitors their health, officials said earlier.

Since March, six of these adult cheetahs have died at KNP due to various reasons.

The latest cheetah death at KNP was on August 2, making it the ninth feline, including the three cubs, to die since March.

On July 11, Tejas, a male cheetah, was found dead following suspected infighting. On July 14, another male cheetah, Suraj, was found dead.

Earlier, one of the Namibian cheetahs, Sasha, succumbed to a kidney-related ailment on March 27, while another cheetah Uday, from South Africa, died on April 13. Daksha, a cheetah brought from South Africa, died of injuries following a violent interaction with a male feline during a mating attempt on May 9.

Cheetahs were reintroduced in India 70 years after the extinction of the species in the wild in the country.

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