New Delhi: Another African cheetah – brought into Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park as part of India’s ambitious Project Cheetah – has died.
Shaurya, a male from Namibia, died inside its enclosure in Kuno on January 16 despite being treated for “weakness”, per a report by The Indian Express. It is the tenth cheetah to die in Kuno. So far, seven adults and three cubs have died due to several causes in the Park.
Another one bites the dust
Shaurya, previously called Freddie (named after Freddie Mercury, lead singer of the British rock band Queen, well known for songs including Another one bites the dust), was one of the eight cheetahs brought in from Namibia to India in September 2022, along with its sibling Gaurav (previously known as Elton).
Together known as “The Rockstars”, the two males were a coalition, and formed a partnership to survive together. The two cheetahs were the first to be released into the wild in Kuno in March last year. Shaurya was also the father of the first ever litter of African cheetah cubs born on Indian soil (female Jwala aka Siyaya gave birth to four cubs in March last year).
Shaurya and his brother Gaurav were also among the cheetahs that were found to have neck wounds as per what cheetah expert Adrian Tordiffe told The Wire. Authorities recaptured the brothers for health checkups in July 2023. Since then, they have remained in fenced enclosures in the Park.
On the morning of January 16, the monitoring team noticed “incoordination and staggering” in Shaurya’s gait, as per the report by The Indian Express. According to a statement by forest officials, veterinarians treated the cheetah but “complications arose post revival and the animal failed to respond to CPR”. Per the statement, the cause of death can be ascertained only after post-mortem.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Aseem Shrivastava told The Indian Express that authorities noticed that Shaurya had a “weakness”. He too added that though the monitoring team immediately tranquilized and treated the animal, it didn’t survive.
“We are collecting samples to shed more light on its death,” Srivastava told The Indian Express.
Per the report, wildlife officials will closely observe Gaurav and release the cheetah into the wild only once they deem it fit for release.
Shaurya is the tenth cheetah to die in Kuno. The last cheetah death was that of Dhatri (previously named Tiblisi), which was also brought in from Namibia along with Shaurya and Gaurav. A monitoring team found the female dead on the morning of August 2 in Kuno, according to a press note by the Madhya Pradesh state forest department.
So far, seven adult cheetahs (of the 20 brought from Namibia and South Africa) and three cubs have died in Kuno. The Indian government has maintained that the deaths were all due to “natural causes” including “traumatic shock”, and dehydration, as per official statements. However, cheetah experts had told The Wire last year that septicaemia due to infected neck wounds caused some of the deaths and that one of the cheetah deaths could have been avoided if delays in communication had not occurred.
In August last year, the Indian government said in a a joint affidavit to the Supreme Court that the deaths (eight cheetahs including the three cubs had died by then) were “troubling” but “not unduly alarming”, after the apex court had asked that a detailed affidavit explaining the reasons for the cheetah deaths and the remedial measures being taken be submitted.