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Voices of Concern: International Experts Raise Alarms over Cheetah Deaths in India's Project Cheetah

Experts from South Africa and Namibia raise concerns over cheetah deaths in India's Project Cheetah, citing lack of consultation and transparency.

In a shocking turn of events, South African and Namibian experts have approached the Indian Supreme Court, voicing their grave concerns over the management of India's ambitious Project Cheetah. The project, aimed at reintroducing the majestic big cats into the wild, has faced a series of setbacks, leading to the unfortunate deaths of several cheetahs inside Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh. The experts claim that better monitoring and timely veterinary care could have prevented some of these tragic deaths. However, they lament the lack of consultation and transparency in the project's decision-making, raising questions about its management and the treatment of foreign experts.

a representational image of a cheetah for a blog discussing cheetah conservation in India

The Letter of Anguish

The Indian Express reported that experts who were part of the national cheetah project steering committee expressed their distress in a letter to the Supreme Court. South African veterinary wildlife specialist Dr. Adrian Tordiffe pointed out the lack of scientific training among the project's current management and the ignorance of foreign experts' opinions. The experts feel that they have been sidelined and used merely as "window dressing" for the project.

Lack of Consultation and Communication

The foreign experts expressed their frustration at being kept in the dark and excluded from important discussions related to the cheetahs' care. Despite being listed as international experts on the Cheetah Project Steering Committee, they claim never to have been consulted or invited to any of the project's meetings. Dr. Laurie Marker, the executive director of Namibia's Cheetah Conservation Fund, raised the issue of better communication and the need for trust between the experts and the project authorities.

Cheetah Deaths and Concerns

Since the arrival of the 20 radio-collared cheetahs from Namibia and South Africa, six adult cheetahs have tragically died for various reasons. In addition, three out of four cubs born to a female Namibian cheetah succumbed to extreme heat in May, leaving one cub being hand-raised for future release into the wild. These deaths have raised serious concerns about the management and care provided to the cheetahs within Kuno National Park.

Supreme Court's Response

In the wake of the eighth cheetah's death last month, the Supreme Court expressed its disapproval, stating that the number of deaths within a year does not present a favourable picture. It urged the government not to treat the matter as a matter of prestige and explore alternative sanctuaries for the remaining cheetahs.

The plight of the cheetahs in India's Project Cheetah has garnered international attention as South African and Namibian experts step forward to express their anguish and raise crucial concerns. The deaths of these magnificent creatures could have been avoided with better monitoring and veterinary care, but the lack of consultation and transparency has hindered their efforts. As the Supreme Court continues to deliberate on the matter, it is hoped that the voices of these concerned experts will bring about positive changes in the management of the project and ensure a better future for the cheetahs in India.

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