Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): It was in April that Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (wildlife) JS Chouhan had shot off a missive to National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) stating that Kuno National Park in Sheopur has reached its full capacity of accommodating cheetahs. He further stressed on the need to explore another site for the big cats as had also been mentioned in the Cheetah Action plan.
Now, even the Apex Court had asked the central government to contemplate on shifting the cheetahs to some other park or sanctuary including that of Rajasthan. The court cited the report of the wildlife experts that Kuno does not have enough space for the population of Cheetahs.
Former lead scientist of Cheetah Project, Dr YV Jhala told Free Press that according to the prey base assessment report, Kuno National Park has the carrying capacity of 20 cheetahs and all of them could not be released into the wild as some need to be kept in an enclosure for breeding.
The Cheetah Action Plan has mentioned the possible places where cheetahs could be reintroduced. To develop the next site for cheetah relocation, the government needs to spend money in developing the prey base, shifting the villages from the selected park, restoring the habitat, ecology etc, said Jhala, adding that the work should be done at earliest.
The Cheetah Action Plan speaks of possible Cheetah relocation sites including Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary, Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary (both in Madhya Pradesh), Bhainsrorgarh sanctuary ,Shahgarh Bulge in Jaisalmer (Rajasthan) and Mukundara Tiger Reserve. “ We have estimated 50 % mortality of Cheetahs in the first year of their relocation to Kuno. So far, the Cheetah project is yet to complete a year but still three cheetahs have died and this is a mere 20 % mortality,” said one of the experts of the Cheetah Project.
Gandhi Sagar & Nauradehi Sanctuaries touted as new sites
Madhya Pradesh Gandhi Sagar Sanctuary and Nauradehi Sanctuary are being touted as the next possible cheetah relocation sites. On Thursday, Chief Secretary in a meeting had directed senior officials to make arrangements at the two aforesaid sanctuaries for the cheetah relocation and complete the work within six months. The state forest officials are keeping their fingers crossed as any other casualty at Kuno will bring the entire cheetah project of state under scanner.
Kuno Cheetah figure likely to rise
The cheetah population in Kuno is supposed to increase further as a couple of female cheetahs is likely to be pregnant. The Kuno officials are skeptical that they will run short of manpower to manage the cheetahs.
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)