In a devastating blow to the cheetah reintroduction program in India, an African cheetah named Suraj was discovered dead at Madhya Pradesh's Kuno National Park, marking the eighth casualty within a span of nearly four months.
According to reports, Suraj, who had been translocated from Africa, was found lifeless by a monitoring team in Palpur East Forest Range's Masavani beat on Friday morning.
Upon inspection by a team of veterinarians and forest officials, Suraj was confirmed dead at around 9 am. This incident marks the first time a cheetah has died in the free range. The carcass displayed injury marks on the back and neck, with a comprehensive report pending.
This tragic event follows the recent demise of another male cheetah, Tejas, just three days prior. Tejas' post-mortem examination revealed an inability to recover from severe trauma sustained during a fight with a female cheetah.
The string of cheetah deaths began with the loss of a female cheetah named Sasha on March 27 due to a kidney ailment. Subsequently, Uday passed away on April 23 due to cardio-pulmonary failure, and Daksha, a female cheetah, lost her life on May 9 following a violent encounter during a mating attempt. Additionally, two cheetah cubs succumbed to "extreme weather conditions and dehydration" on May 25.