One of the four cheetah cubs born at Kuno National Park (KNP) on March 29, 2023, died on May 23. The cub was born to three-year-old female Jwala who had arrived in India in September 2022.
Forest officials at KNP confirmed the news in a press release, saying the cause of the death of the cub is yet to be ascertained. This is the fourth death of a cheetah reported from the national park in Madhya Pradesh in the past two months.
At present, the number of adult cheetahs stands at 17 and cubs at three.
Wildlife warden JS Chauhan said Jwala was found with her dead cub around 7 am on May 23. “It was seen through video footage that three of her cubs walked with her while the fourth continued to lie on the ground,” he said.
Chauhan added that the monitoring team took a close look and found that the cub had tried to raise its head. “A team of veterinarians was rushed to the spot. But the cub died during the course of treatment. Prima facie it appears that the cub was found in a weak health condition. It was the smallest, least active and most lethargic compared to the other three,” he explained.
The statement said the cub was also found to have consumed less milk compared to the others and its survival had been a cause of increasing concern among officials.
“The death of the cub should be perceived with the lens of ‘survival of the fittest’. In Africa, the survival rate of newborn cheetahs is very less. Experts estimate that only 10 per cent of cubs survive. This means that in a natural environment, only one of every 10 cubs born will survive. Compared with other cat species, the cheetah has the highest birth rates,” the statement said.
In March, Namibian cheetah Sasha was reported dead following renal failure while on April 24, Uday died of cardiac failure. Earlier this month, a female cheetah, Daksha, was found dead by officials while mating with two male cheetahs on May 9.
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