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Environment

Cheetah Cub Injured and Treated, Authorities Hiding the Issue, Alleges Activist

The then eight-month-old cub suffered a fracture in November and was subsequently treated, per a social media post by an RTI activist. However, park officials have reportedly denied this.

New Delhi: Project Cheetah seems to be headed towards yet another controversy.

An African cheetah cub was injured last November in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park and subsequently treated for a foot fracture, according to photographs of an official correspondence between forest officials uploaded on social media by an RTI activist. The letter also includes an image of a cheetah cub being treated, its right foot in a cast. The MP-based activist’s posts claim that authorities ‘hid’ this development. However, as per a report by Times of India, the management of Kuno National Park have rejected Dubey’s allegations.

The Wire has contacted officials in the Forest Department for an official response regarding this. The story will be updated once they respond.

Cub fractured foot, was treated?

Madhya Pradesh-based RTI activist Ajay Dubey’s social media posts on Facebook and Twitter (both dated February 9) called for an investigation into how and when a cheetah cub kept in a closed enclosure in Kuno suffered from a foot fracture.

Dubey, in his social media posts, has uploaded photographs of an official correspondence dated December 5 from the Chief Conservator of Forests and Director of the Lion Project, Uttam Kumar Sharma, in reply to an inquiry from the National Tiger Conservation Authority. The letter from Sharma details that a then eight-month-old African cheetah cub was injured on November 28 last year. Veterinarians treated the cub the next day for a fracture of its right foot.

Regarding the circumstances of the occurrence, the letter says that recorded camera footage showed the cub – apparently in fine health then – running after treepies (a bird slightly larger than a crow) in its enclosure at 7:54 am and then disappearing behind trees. It emerged from the tree clump at 8:02 am with a limp. Veterinarians immobilised the cub and treated it the next day, on November 29.

No official announcement yet

However, authorities have not made any official announcement on the alleged injury.

One of Dubey’s social media posts on February 9 claims that the Kuno management kept the news of the cub’s injury from the NTCA for several days. A news report by the Times of India on February 10 says the management of Kuno National Park have “rejected” Dubey’s allegations. In another post on February 11 on Facebook, Dubey alleged that authorities hid this news, and questioned why they did so, suggesting that an investigation be launched immediately.

The Wire has contacted officials in the Forest Department for an official response regarding any injury of a cheetah cub. The story will be updated once they respond.

On January 11 this year, Sharma told Deccan Chronicle that authorities will soon start the “rewilding of the cheetah cub”, referring to the sole cheetah cub from the first litter, which will turn a year old in March this year.

So far, 11 African cheetah cubs have been born on Indian soil. In March last year, first-time mother Siyaya aka Jwala gave birth to four cubs, the first cheetahs to be born on Indian soil since the 1950s. Three cubs of this litter, however, died in May 2023. The sole surviving cub is being reared by vets at Kuno – which is the cub that allegedly suffered a foot fracture – per reports.

The Union environment ministry announced two more births this January: Jwala gave birth to her second litter of four, while Aasha gave birth to three cubs.