Cheetah cub born in Kuno dies, fourth death in India since March

Amrutha Pagad
Amrutha PagadMay 24, 2023 | 10:15

Cheetah cub born in Kuno dies, fourth death in India since March

Cheetah cub born in India dies. Photo: Representative (Pexels)

In yet another unfortunate development for the Cheetah Relocation Project, a cheetah cub born at Kuno National Park died on May 23. The Madhya Pradesh Forest Department announced that one of the four cheetah cubs born to cheetah Jwala, died of weakness.

The cheetah cub is the fourth cheetah to die in Kuno since the spotted cats were translocated from Namibia and South Africa to India and the second death in a month. 


What happened to the cheetah cub?

  • JS Chouhan, Chief Conservator of the Forest Department, said that on Tuesday morning when the monitoring team was observing the mother cheetah and her four cubs, they saw the mother rise up and walk away followed by three of her cubs. 

  • The fourth cub did not get up and follow its mother and siblings. After the cheetah cub continued to lie on the ground, the veterinary team was brought in. 
  • However, the cub died 5-10 minutes after receiving medical attention. 
  • The forest department officials said that the cub was born the weakest among the litter, it was the smallest, least active, and least healthy. 
  • A post-mortem will reveal the exact cause of death of the cub, but reports say the cub died of dehydration and weakness. Cheetah Jwala had given birth to the four cubs in March this year.

The survival rate of cheetah cubs

  • The MP Forest Department press release said that the cheetah cub death should be seen in the context of the "survival of the fittest" theory by Charles Darwin. 
  • The survival rate of cheetah cubs is the lowest among big cats. The survival rate in open forests is only 10%, meaning only 1 in 10 cheetah cubs reach adulthood under natural circumstances. 
  • Weak cubs are often unable to compete for milk with their siblings, decreasing their chances of survival. However, since the cheetah cub's death occurred in the enclosure and not natural setting, it needs to be given more attention. 

After the death of three adult cheetahs brought from Africa and the fourth cheetah cub death, only 20 cheetahs including the three remaining cubs are left in Kuno National Park. Among them, only six of the cheetahs have been released in the wild and 14 including the three cubs are in a bigger enclosure.

The cheetah deaths

  • March 27: Cheetah Sasha died of renal failure
  • April 23: Cheetah Uday died of cardiopulmonary failure
  • May 9: Female cheetah Daksha died due to injuries inflicted during mating with two male cheetahs. 

According to the BBC, female cheetah Daksha was kept in an enclosure next to two male cheetahs - Agni and Vayu. Authorities decided to let the two males meet Daksha on May 6. A few days later, Daksha was found with injuries and died shortly after. 

It's normal for male cheetahs to behave violently with the female during mating and it's impossible for the monitoring team to interfere with the cats at that time.
- Statement from MP Forest Department

The Wildlife Institute of India has already said that the survival rate of cheetahs during the first year of translocation is going to be bad. Only 50% are expected to survive. However, critics have been wary of the project and the location chosen to house the cheetahs. 

Reports say that Kuno National Park is too small to hold some 20 adult cheetahs. Reportedly, only 2-3 male cheetahs can make Kuno their territory, while other male cheetahs are likely to keep fighting or become 'floaters', roaming large swathes of areas waiting to take over a territory. Non-territorial female cheetahs need space between the territories to roam around. 


Furthermore, there are concerns about cheetah-human conflict arising in the future. Already some cheetahs in Kuno have ventured beyond the borders of the national park. One even had to be tranquilised. The Indian government plans to translocate more cheetahs from African nations to India. The Madhya Pradesh government is also reportedly preparing the Gandhisagar Wildlife Sanctuary as an alternate site for the cheetahs.

Last updated: May 24, 2023 | 10:21
    Please log in
    I agree with DailyO's privacy policy