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India’s Cheetah Translocation Project Faces Setback Due to Deaths of Cheetahs

Context:

India’s ambitious Cheetah Translocation Project is facing a new set of challenges as two cheetahs have died, bringing the number of cheetahs left in the project to 18 out of the initial 20.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. Details about the Deaths of Cheetahs in India’s Translocation Project
  3. About Cheetah

Details:

  • Uday, a six-year-old male cheetah, died on April 23, 2023, in Kuno National Park.
  • Sasha, a five-year-old female cheetah, died on March 27, 2023, in the same park.
  • The number of cheetahs left in the project is now 18 out of the initial 20.
  • The government is considering alternative conservation models.
  • One option is the South African model of conserving cheetahs in fenced reserves.

Details about the Deaths of Cheetahs in India’s Translocation Project

  • The Cheetah Translocation Project aimed for a 50% survival rate for the first year, which is 10 out of 20 cheetahs.
  • Experts suggest that the project overestimated Kuno National Park’s carrying capacity for cheetahs.
  • Predation is the biggest killer of cheetahs, accounting for 53.2% of mortality according to a South African study.
  • Lions, leopards, hyenas, and jackals are the primary predators responsible for cheetah deaths.
  • Cheetahs experience high cub mortality rates of up to 90% in protected areas due to predation.
  • In India, leopards are likely to be the chief predator of cheetahs as lions are mostly absent except in Gujarat.
  • Other causes of mortality include holding camps, immobilization/transit, tracking devices, and other wildlife killing cheetahs, including cubs.
The Cheetah Translocation Project is considering the following options:
  • Preparing Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary in the Chambal River valley as the second home for cheetahs.
  • Moving a few cheetahs from Kuno to the safety of an 80-sq-km fenced area in Rajasthan’s Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve.
    • However, both options would mean shifting the project’s goal from establishing the cheetah in an open landscape to managing the African imports as a few pocket populations in fenced-in or restricted areas

About Cheetah:

  • The cheetah is one of the oldest of the big cat species, with ancestors that can be traced back more than five million years to the Miocene era.
  • The cheetah is also the world’s fastest land mammal that lives in Africa and Asia.
African Cheetah
  • IUCN status – Vulnerable
  • CITES status – Appendix-I of the List. This List comprises of migratory species that have been assessed as being in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their range.
  • Habitat – Around 6,500-7,000 African cheetahs present in the wild.
  • Physical Characteristics – Bigger in size as compared to Asiatic Cheetah.
Asian Cheetah
  • IUCN Status – Critically Endangered.
  • CITES – Appendix 1 of the list
  • Habitat – 40-50 found only in Iran.
  • Physical Characteristics – Smaller and paler than the African cheetah. Has more fur, a smaller head and a longer neck. Usually have red eyes and they have a more cat-like appearance.

-Source: Indian Express


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