Cub born to Namibian cheetah dies in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park

May 23, 2023 08:31 PM IST

A cheetah cub born to Jwala, translocated to India from Namibia, died in Madhya Pradesh's Kuno National Park. The survival rate of cheetah cubs is 20%.

One of the four cubs born to Namibian cheetah Jwala, earlier known as Siyaya, which was translocated to India on September 17, 2022, died in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park on Tuesday, forest officials said, adding that the death was not unusual as the survival rate of cheetah cubs is about 20%.

Namibian cheetah Jwala, earlier known as Siyaya, gave birth to four cubs on March 27. (File)
Namibian cheetah Jwala, earlier known as Siyaya, gave birth to four cubs on March 27. (File)

Chief Conservator of Forests JS Chauhan confirmed death of a two-month-old cub. Jwala was a captive bred and was not released in wild. She gave birth to four cubs on March 27.

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According to a forest official, the possible reason for the cheetah cub’s death was dehydration but the exact reason would be known after the post mortem.

However, experts said the mortality rate of cheetah cubs is very high.

South Africa metapopulation project head Vincent Van Der Merwe said, “Whilst the loss of one of Siyaya’s cubs is unfortunate, the loss is well within expected mortality rates for cheetah cubs.”

“Cub mortality is particularly high for wild cheetahs. For this reason, cheetahs have evolved to give birth to large litters compared to other wild cats. This enables them to compensate for high cub mortality rate. Weaker cheetah cubs in a litter will typically survive less than their stronger siblings. This death should be viewed within the context of ‘survival of the fittest’. As part of the natural selection process, weaker cheetahs will be eliminated from the gene pool. This ensures that only the fittest and strongest survive, to the benefit of wild cheetah survival,” he added.

A veterinarian from South Africa and a cheetah expert, Adrian Tordiffe said, “Mortality rate of cheetah cub varies tremendously from place to place. In general, cheetah cub mortalities are high. The fittest survive and the weaker ones don’t. Many also get killed by competing predators. This was just a process of natural selection.”

Now, 20 cheetahs including three cubs are left in Kuno National Park. Six of them have been released in wild and 14 including three cubs are in bigger enclosure of 6 sq km. Three adult cheetahs and a cub has died so far.

There is also a discussion going on to transfer some of the cheetahs to Rajasthan’s Mukundra Hills tiger reserve as Kuno does not have sufficient space to house all the cheetahs. The MP government is preparing a second home for them at Gandhisagar Wildlife Sanctuary, which will take another four months. To enable better cheetah survival, the officials had suggested shifting some of them to Mukundhra as it has a fenced enclosure.

On Tuesday, forest minister Vijay Shah held a review meeting of cheetah project with top forest department officials.

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    She is a senior reporter based at Bhopal. She covers higher education, social issues, youth affairs, woman and child development related issues, sports and business & industries.

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