cheetahs: infighting and infrastructure problems at Kuno National Park before the cheetahs changed

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As the day nears when the eight cheetahs are supposed to be moved to larger enclosures in Kuno National Park, reports of alleged “infighting” within the ambitious project’s core team and of a lack of arrangements were revealed.

According to the ToI report, experts are of the opinion that all points of contention should be settled before the release date discussion.

“WII scientist YV Jhala may be going on leave and the issue has not yet been resolved. It is apparently being reviewed with the Prime Minister for redress as Jhala plays a crucial role in the success of this project,” the report said, citing sources.

The cheetahs will be moved on Oct. 17, according to the schedule, for their best acclimatization to the new environment, officers said.

According to reports, the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) will also send experts to assist the MP Forestry Department in this endeavor. Some issues have been raised and need to be resolved before the cheetahs are moved to larger bomas (holding enclosures).

Before moving the cheetahs to the bomas, officers must go through a very long checklist.

Fence issues

According to sources, some parts of the internal fence are less than 2m high and need to be reinforced, while some parts are loose.

Eli Waker, CCF conservation biologist and cheetah specialist, said: “If the cheetah jumps on it, it will bend over and the cheetah can jump over it.”

“They also need to place rocks all along the fence to avoid bridges underneath that can be dug by wild boars. Only a small part of the 11km inner fence has been electrified so far, and the majority remains. to finish,” Waker said.

Problems at Boma-5

In another issue, the vegetation of Boma-5, where Sasha, Savannah, and Siyaya are to be released, is very dense and tall, making it difficult for cheetahs to hunt in this boma. An open well at Boma-5 also poses a safety risk to cheetahs. The well must be filled to ensure that the cheetahs do not fall into it.

Tracking issues

Water supply problems also need to be resolved. Officers also want an improved network at the ranger rest home so they can access GPS data and monitor the cheetahs in real time, after release.

“How long the cheetahs spend in the bomas before being released back into the national park depends on how they react to the staff tracking them. We can now get our vehicle around the eight cats with no problem. Members of the team must be able to approach the cheetahs in case they get hungry or burst out. For this reason, we cannot say exactly how long the cats will stay in the boma before entering the park,” said Barthélémy Balli, responsible for the Conservation Release program of the CCF.

The cheetah monitoring team in Kuno also needs special tracking equipment and a suitable meat storage facility. The current solar panel powering the refrigeration unit is not powerful enough to keep the meat cold on cloudy days.

Quarantine enclosures

According to sources, concerns have been raised over the construction of the new cheetah quarantine enclosures. They are built without the proper configuration.

“Prey stocking in the bomas will need to take place before the eight Namibian cheetahs are moved. We anticipate that at least 200 spotted deer will be placed in the bomas before release,” Balli said. He added: “We believe that our plan to transfer cheetahs from the quarantine enclosures to the bomas and to the park, without moving the animals away, is carefully thought out and will lead to the best results.”

During the adjustment period, if a particular animal fails to hunt often enough to sustain itself, it will be supported with additional feed by the post-release monitoring team.

“This pre-release period provides the cheetahs with a safe environment in which they can begin to explore their new surroundings and learn to hunt new prey species available at Kuno before being released back into the national park,” Walker said.

According to CCF Founder and Executive Director Dr. Laurie Marker, CCF Cheetah Project Team Leader, reintroducing a species is always an extremely difficult task that requires many years of dedicated effort and perseverance in the face of to difficulties.

“Through CCF’s years of research into releasing cheetahs into the wild, we have learned key steps we can take to help maximize the likelihood of released animals surviving. CCF has worked with India and the Kuno National Park team to share this knowledge so that it can be applied,” said Dr Marker.

“Although ultimately the success of the effort will depend on many things, including the performance of the reintroduced individuals, CCF is confident that India is ready to do everything possible to ensure the success of the project. .”

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