In what forest officials say should be viewed from the “perspective of survival of the fittest”, a cheetah cub died at Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday.
According to the state forest officials, the cub is suspected to have died due to weakness.
It was born to the female cheetah named Jwala, which was spotted with its 4 cubs on Tuesday.
Jwala then proceeded to walk with the cubs, however, the fourth cub remained lying in its place, forest officials said.
“After a short stay by the monitoring team, the fourth cub was closely inspected. This cub was found lying on the ground unable to get up and even tried to raise its head after seeing the monitoring team,” read a statement issued by the forest department.
The veterinary team was rushed, which then tried to “give necessary treatment to the cheetah cub, but it died within a short time”.
“Thereafter the autopsy of the cheetah cub was done. Prima facie the cause of death of the cub appears to be due to weakness,” the statement read.
Forest officials stated that from the beginning, this “cub has been the smallest among the four cubs, less active and lethargic”.
“Generally, a weak cheetah cub is able to drink less milk than other cubs, due to which the expectation of its survival decreases and ultimately such cubs do not survive for a long time. This whole process should be seen in the perspective of survival of the fittest,” the statement read.
Forest officials explained that the survival of cheetah cubs in African countries is low too.
“According to the available literature and experts, the survival percentage in the open forest is only 10 percent. Only 1 in 10 cheetah cubs make it to adulthood in the wild. That is why the number of cubs born in general is the highest in cheetahs compared to other wild cat species,” a forest official said.
On May 9, a female cheetah, Daksha, brought from South Africa died following a “violent interaction ” with two male cheetahs, possibly during mating.
Daksha’s death came close on the heels of the death of Uday, who had taken ill in April. On March 27, a Namibian cheetah named Sasha had died of kidney complications. Sasha was believed to have contracted the kidney during its captivity in Namibia and had been unwell since arriving at Kuno.
Of the 20 cheetahs brought to India from Africa in the world’s first intercontinental translocation project, 17 now remain.
Eight Namibian cheetahs were brought and released in Kuno in September last year. Another batch of 12 South African cheetahs were brought by the Indian government on February 18 this year.
The cheetahs from the two African nations have been brought to India under the ambitious inter-continental translocation programme to revive their population in the country seven decades after they became extinct.
The country’s last cheetah died in Koriya district of present-day Chhattisgarh in 1947 and the species was declared extinct in 1952.