Three cheetah cubs die in India amid sweltering heat wave

The cubs were the first to be born in the country in more than seven decades

By AP

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

 

Two cheetahs are seen inside a quarantine section before being relocated to India at a reserve near Bella Bella, South Africa, on September 4, 2022. Photo: AP
Two cheetahs are seen inside a quarantine section before being relocated to India at a reserve near Bella Bella, South Africa, on September 4, 2022. Photo: AP

Published: Fri 26 May 2023, 3:02 PM

Three cheetah cubs born to a big cat that was brought to India from Africa last year died in central India’s Kuno National Park in the past week, forest officials said, as a heat wave in the region sent temperatures soaring.

The cubs were the first to be born in India in more than seven decades. Once widespread in India, cheetahs became extinct in 1952 from hunting and habitat loss. Their mother was among the 20 cheetahs that India flew in from Namibia and South Africa as part of an ambitious and hotly contested plan to reintroduce the world’s fastest land animal to the South Asian country.


The first cub died on Tuesday, prompting veterinarians in the national park in Madhya Pradesh state to closely monitor the mother and her three remaining cubs. The cubs appeared weak on Thursday afternoon — a day when temperatures spiked to 47 degrees Celsius — and authorities intervened to help the cats.

A cheetah lies inside a transport cage at the Cheetah Conservation Fund before being relocated to India, in Otjiwarongo, Namibia, on September 16, 2022. Photo: AP
A cheetah lies inside a transport cage at the Cheetah Conservation Fund before being relocated to India, in Otjiwarongo, Namibia, on September 16, 2022. Photo: AP

They were “weak, underweight and highly dehydrated” and two of them later died, forest officials said in a statement on Thursday.


The last surviving cub is being treated in a critical care facility.

Officials didn't say what caused the deaths but a scorching heat wave in India is believed to have weakened the cubs. The survival rate of cheetah cubs both in the wild and captivity is low, according to experts.

The cats were introduced with much fanfare and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said the cats would catalyze efforts to conserve India's neglected grasslands. But of the 20 adult cheetahs imported to India, three — two females and a male — have died.

Fewer than 7,000 adult cheetahs remain in the wild globally, and they now inhabit less than nine per cent of their original range. Shrinking habitat, due to the increasing human population and climate change, is a huge threat.


More news from World