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.
GS III: Environment and Ecology
Dimensions of the Article:
- Details about the Deaths of Cheetahs in India’s Translocation Project
- About Cheetah
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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