Two rare cheetah cubs have died, while a third is fighting for life in critical condition. The cheetah deaths come only three days after another cub died. The animals, which died at a national park in India, were officially declared extinct in the country more than 70 years ago but attempts have been made to slowly reintroduce as part of an ambitious project.
The adorable cubs are the first cheetahs born in India after a seven-decade-long absence.
The birth of these precious cubs in March was only made possible by the arrival of a female cheetah from Namibia, who was translocated to India last year.
After the births, the female cheetah and her three newborns were placed under close scrutiny, according to park authorities.
Eight cheetahs in total were transported in September 2022 while another 12 were taken in from South Africa in February 2023.
The temperature in the national park in Madhya Pradesh soared to nearly 47C on Tuesday (23 May) and the cubs were not in “normal condition”, a press release by the park authorities said.
Concerned officials noted that the young ones displayed signs of weakness, being underweight and severely dehydrated.
Although attempts were made to save the cubs, two died today (May 26). The third cub of the litter is in critical condition and being treated, the park said.
Cheetahs were declared extinct in India in 1952 but through the translocations, the population had been brought back to 20 cheetahs.
But after these two cheetah deaths and the deaths of three others in the last two months, that number has dropped to 14.
While wildlife experts applauded the reintroduction initiative, some cautioned about potential risks from other predators and the scarcity of prey faced by the cheetahs.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court expressed grave concerns over the animals.
It prompted the federal government to explore the possibility of relocating the cheetahs to a more suitable habitat.