Two more cheetahs that were taken from Namibia and South Africa to India as part of a resettlement program there, died this week.
The latest deaths bring the number of Southern African cheetahs that have been taken to India and died in this country in the past few months to eight.
The cheetahs, two males named Suraj and Tejas, died within days of each other.
Vincent van der Merwe, founder of the Metapopulation project (TMI), which moves cheetahs between reserves to avoid inbreeding, overpopulation or extinction, says the post-mortem examinations confirmed that the cheetahs died of septicaemia, i.e. blood poisoning.
“The extreme wet weather conditions (in India) led to the collars causing infection in the cheetahs,” he says.
Superficial wounds were observed on the cheetahs’ necks, but these were not caused by other animals. Rather, it was caused by an infestation of maggots which led to infection and sepsis.
According to Van der Merwe, the post-mortem examination on Tejas showed that his lungs, heart, spleen and kidneys were damaged.
“Due to the condition of his intestines, he most likely would not have been able to recover from the trauma caused by the external injuries.”
However, Tejas, who weighed just 43 kg, was also well below the average weight of 55 kg to 60 kg for cheetahs of that age.
India imported eight cheetahs from Namibia in September and in February this year another 12 of the big cats were taken from South Africa to India.
Five adult cheetahs and three of the four cubs born in March this year in the Kuno National Park have already died.
Van der Merwe said earlier that the initial stages of a resettlement project are often challenging, and that in the past many cheetahs were also lost when they were resettled to other countries.
However, the repeated deaths at Kuno National Park have raised concerns about the well-being of these cheetahs, and whether the efforts to re-establish cheetahs in the area are really worthwhile, reports The Times of India.