Wildlife & Biodiversity

Suraj: Eighth cheetah dies at Kuno National Park

Injury marks found on neck and back of the wild cat  

By Himanshu Nitnaware
Published: Friday 14 July 2023

This story has been updated

An eighth cheetah, a male named Suraj was found dead on the morning of July 14, 2023, at the Kuno National Park (KNP), a statement by the park said.

Suraj was found in a weak condition around 6.30 am by a monitoring team in the east Palpur area of KNP under the Maswani beat. “Upon close observation, the officials found flies hovering over the neck of Suraj. As officials cautiously moved towards him, he stood and ran far away,” the press note stated.

The situation and health condition of the wild animal was immediately communicated to the control room and other members of the monitoring team.

Veterinarians and other officials reached the spot around 9 am and started looking for the animal. However, once they reached him, Suraj was found dead.

The primary investigation found the cause of death to be due to injuries on the neck and back. A detailed understanding and actual details will be known after an autopsy.

“Extreme wet conditions are causing the collars worn by the animals to create infections. Both, Tejas and Suraj, died of septicemia,” Vincent van der Merwe, the Cheetah Metapopulation Manager of The Metapopulation Initiative, told Down To Earth.

This is the second death of a cheetah in KNP within a week. On July 11, four-year-old Tejas was reported dead with injuries on his neck.

Before this, six cheetahs including three cubs lost their lives at the KNP. In a recent incident on June 26, a male named Agni suffered injuries after a skirmish between two groups of cheetahs.

In March, Namibian cheetah Sasha was reported dead following renal failure while on April 24, Uday died of cardiac failure. A female cheetah, Daksha, was found dead by officials while mating with two male cheetahs on May 9.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had released eight Namibian cheetahs into a boma in KNP on September 17, 2022, his 72nd birthday. On February 18, 2023, 12 cheetahs were brought from South Africa to Kuno.

On March 29, Jwala, a female from Namibia, gave birth to a litter of four cubs. Three have died since then.

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