Number of Cheetah deaths not low: Supreme Court
So far, 6 adult Cheetahs have died since the translocation of the 20 big cats in two batches from Namibia and South Africa in September 2022 and February 2023.
The Supreme Court on Monday said that the number of deaths of Cheetahs at the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh is not low, and even the general public was concerned with the health of the wild cats. The court, however, observed that there was no reason to question the Centre on the move to reintroduce Cheetahs in India, Bar and Bench reported.
A bench of Justices BR Gavai, PS Narasimha and Prashant Kumar Mishra was hearing a petition by conservationists who complained that the Centre was not taking effective steps to prevent cheetah deaths.
So far, six adult Cheetahs have died since the translocation of the 20 big cats in two batches from Namibia and South Africa in September 2022 and February 2023, while three of the four cubs born in India have also died.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aishwarya Bhati, who appeared for the Central government, said that the Cheetah translocation project was one-of-a-kind and there was nothing 'alarming' as of now, the report added.
"Some of the media reports are not accurate. We are mulling releasing updates on our own. But we have to embark on the project balancing ecological concerns," Bhati submitted.
Bhati further said an 11-member expert committee had been formed by the Centre to monitor the health of the surviving cheetahs. She also assured that the government would take inputs from international cheetah conservationists, the report added
The court finally disposed of the application, saying it found no reason to disbelieve the Centre’s statements about its efforts to make the cheetah project a success. The court said the project was better left to the wisdom of experts in the field rather than the judiciary.
The Supreme Court, on July 20, had remarked that the deaths of 40% of the 20 cheetahs did not present a good picture and had asked why all the cheetahs translocated from Namibia and South Africa were only sent to the Kuno National Park.
The court had earlier urged the government to move the big cats to a more conducive environment, if required, and not make it a “prestige issue”.
Meanwhile, Union minister for environment, forest, and climate change Bhupender Yadav on Saturday said that the death of the last two Cheetahs - on July 14 and August 2, was due to “monsoon infection”.
“An infection caused due to the monsoon has come to our notice and we have also lost two cheetahs due to that infection. We have also shared its information with South Asia, Namibia, and international experts. Now we are moving forward on its management issue,” Yadav told ANI.
Two batches of Cheetahs, eight from Namibia and 12 from South Africa were translocated to India's Kuno National Park from Namibia and South Africa in September 2022 and February 2023, respectively, as part of efforts to revive the cheetah population in India, after the species was declared extinct from the country in 1952.