Namibian cheetah Sasha dies in Kuno National Park 6 months after coming to India

Amrutha Pagad
Amrutha PagadMar 28, 2023 | 10:08

Namibian cheetah Sasha dies in Kuno National Park 6 months after coming to India

Female cheetah, Sasha, dies in Kuno of kidney-related issues. Photo: Twitter/KunoNationalPrk

It's a sad day at Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh, as one of the eight cheetahs brought from Namibia to India has passed away. A five-year-old female cheetah, Sasha, died of kidney related ailment on March 27. Sasha's death has cast a shadow on the Centre's ambitious cheetah reintroduction project. 

What happened? 

  • Cheetah Sasha died of renal failure in Kuno National Park. Madhya Pradesh forest department said that they found the female cheetah's health deteriorating on March 22.
On March 22, Sasha was found in the park, where she had been released from the quarantine boma. She was not making any movement. She was examined and brought back into the quarantine boma.
- Statement by Indian authorities read
  • Examination and blood tests by veterinarians revealed an infection of the kidneys. 
  • However, this isn't new. Sasha's kidney-related disease was first noted by authorities in January. 
  • She was revealed to be suffering from dehydration and lethargy. Sasha was also found lazing in her big enclosure on January 23 which prompted authorities to shift her into quarantine for treatment.

What was wrong with Cheetah Sasha?

  • Cheetah Sasha's blood tests revealed high levels of creatinine. 
  • High levels of creatinine in blood or urine are often a signal that kidneys are not filtering blood properly. It further leads to chronic kidney disease. 
  • Cheetah Sasha is said to have picked up a kidney infection while in captivity in Namibia. 
  • Sasha's treatment history showed that her last blood sample collected on August 15, 2022, also had high levels of creatinine (400).

  • However, authorities hoped that she would recover though the chances of survival were said to be slim. 

Cheetahs and kidney infection:

  • Cheetahs are known to be delicate creatures by nature as they have a thin and small frame, mostly built for speed. Hence, are susceptible to even the slightest of illnesses or changes to their habitat. 
  • Cheetah Conservation Fund, Namibia in a tweet said that kidney infections are commonly seen among captive cheetahs as compared to their wild counterparts. 

  • However, CCF said it is not completely known why captive cheetahs are more prone to kidney diseases. 

Cheetah Sasha was first found in 2017 on a Namibian farm, malnourished. She was taken to CCF Centre where she was often always with another cheetah Savannah. Cheetah Savannah is also at Kuno National Park now. 

Cheetah Sasha in Namibia. Photo: Twitter/CCFCheetah

India's cheetah reintroduction project:

  • Cheetah Sasha's death has cast a shadow on India's ambitious program to reintroduce cheetahs which went extinct in the country in the 50s.
  • Critics say that Kuno National Park is not fit to accommodate the cheetahs which often need large homes and that there might be potential human-animal conflict. 
  • Conservationists from India and abroad last year published a letter in Nature Ecology & Evolution criticising the project
The fenced-in cheetahs from Namibia are envisioned to soon move freely in India where average human population densities are 150 times higher. We anticipate that adopting such a speculative and unscientific approach will lead to human-cheetah conflicts...
- The Letter reads
  • On the other hand, those involved in the project have said that while the project is difficult and they also expect a high mortality rate among cheetahs before their population stabilises, "it's better not to let an animal go extinct".

The eight cheetahs were brought to Madhya Pradesh's Kuno National Park on September 17, 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's birthday. So far, all the other cheetahs are said to be healthy and adjusted to their new homes, hunting, and even mating. India is set to bring more cheetahs from South Africa this year. 

Last updated: March 28, 2023 | 10:39
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