A male cheetah died at the national park in Madhya Pradesh today, making it the eighth big cat casualty there in nearly four months.
The African cheetah, Suraj, was found dead at the Kuno National Park early this morning.
Officials said they are trying to ascertain the exact cause of Suraj’s death.
On Tuesday, another male cheetah, Tejas, was found dead at the national park. The feline’s autopsy had revealed that the cheetah was unable to recover from a “traumatic shock” after a violent fight with a female cheetah.
On March 27, a female Cheetah named Sasha died due to kidney ailment, on April 23, Uday died of cardio-pulmonary failure and on May 9, Daksha, a female cheetah, died after a violent interaction with a male during a mating attempt. Two cheetah cubs died of “extreme weather condition and dehydration” on May 25.
Suraj’s death is yet another blow to the Centre’s cheetah reintroduction programme launched in September last year, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Earlier, the Centre had denied any lapses behind the deaths of the six cheetahs. “There is no lapse behind any of the cheetah deaths. Even in the case of the deaths of the three cheetah cubs, global wildlife literature clearly mentions 90% per cent infant mortality among cheetahs,” said an official.
In May, South African wildlife expert Vincent van der Merwe had predicted more cheetah deaths and said that the reintroduction project is going to see an even higher mortality, when the cheetahs would try to establish territories and come face to face with leopards and tigers at the park.