African cheetah dies in India during reintroduction program
New Delhi, Mar 27 (EFE).- Sasha, one of the 20 cheetahs which have been introduced in India to reestablish the feline species in the country where it has been extinct for more than seven decades, died on Monday due to a renal illness it had been suffering from since its arrival.
“Sadly, Sasha succumbed to renal failure. She was under the care of Project Cheetah veterinarians for a few months, so this was not unexpected,” Laurie Marker, founder and executive director for the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), said in a statement.
.”Kidney disease and renal failure are a problem for all cats, but this can be especially bad for cheetahs, which are by nature delicate creatures,” she added.
Sasha was one of the first eight African cheetahs that had arrived in India in September as part of the reintroduction project.
After its illness was detected on arrival, doctors accessed the animal’s medical history and found that it had showed symptoms of the disease even before landing in India. The cheetah was then put under the care of veterinarians.
After the first eight specimens, 12 more cheetahs were brought to India in February, with all the animals being placed in the Kuno National Park, situated in central India and spread over 748 square kilometers.
So far, only four of the animals have been released into the forest, which was chosen for the project due to its low human presence, abundance of water, and a large number of herbivorous species.
The rest of the cheetahs are still in the process of acclimatization or in quarantine, before their eventual release.
The Project Cheetah aims to release 50 of these animals – sourced from South Africa, Namibia and Botswana – in different parts of the country over the next five years.
The Asiatic cheetah was declared extinct in India in 1952 due to poaching and natural habitat destruction.
Experts have proposed the reintroduction of the African species instead of the Asiatic, which only survives in Iran and is extremely endangered, with less than 20 animals sighted in recent years.
Although Marker insisted that the rest of the cheetahs are healthy, the preliminary report of the project released last year by the Indian minister of environment, forests and climate change, Bhupender Yadav, said that even a 50 percent survival rate for the animals after their first year in India would be considered a success. EFE