Wildlife & Biodiversity

Project Cheetah: Two more cubs die, toll increases to six

Officials say the cubs died of severe dehydration caused due to extreme temperatures

By Himanshu Nitnaware
Published: Thursday 25 May 2023
Project Cheetah: Two more cubs die, toll increases to six
Photo: @KunoNationalPrk Photo: @KunoNationalPrk

Two other cheetah cubs died at Kuno National Park (KNP) in Madhya Pradesh in the evening of May 23, 2023, barely hours after one died in the morning, park authorities told Down To Earth (DTE).

According to park officials, the two cubs died around 5 pm due to severe dehydration. Wildlife warden, JS Chauhan said the eight-week-old cubs were underweight and severely dehydrated.

“The weight of these cubs was around 1.5 kilograms, compared to the usual weight 2.75 kg. The region has been experiencing a severe heatwave, with temperatures peaking to 46-47 degrees Celsius,” he told DTE.

Chauhan noted that an additional factor is the cubs’ three-year-old mother Jwala is also captive-bred or hand-reared and a first-time mother.

“Cubs are usually entirely dependent on their mother’s milk. But Jwala is likely inexperienced. It was about 10 days ago that the cubs had started walking with their mother,” he added.

Jwala on March 29 gave birth to a litter of four cubs. The fourth, according to officials, is equally weak but stable.

“The fourth cub was also found in a severely dehydrated state. The veterinarians were lucky to have saved him in time. A 15-minute delay could’ve cost another life,” Chauhan said.

The official said the cub was immediately rescued and put on intravenous fluids in Palpur. “It will remain under care and observation until its condition improves. All animals are being monitored closely by veterinarians,” he said.

Chauhan claimed that the remaining 17 adult cheetahs are healthy and there is nothing concerning about their health as yet. “Jwala is under special observation and being given food supplements as well,” he said.

So far, six cheetahs including three cubs have lost their lives. This has raised concerns about reintroducing cheetahs in the Indian subcontinent.

According to experts, only 10 per cent of cheetah cubs in a litter survive, which is the highest among feline species.

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