Five SA cheetahs die after being sent to India
Mortality stands at eight out of 20 sent for the programme, including cats from Namibia
Five of the 12 cheetahs SA sent to India earlier this year have died. This was confirmed by forestry, fisheries and the environment minister Barbara Creecy in parliament this week.
The animals were sent to India’s Kuno National Park in February to reintroduce the cheetah population in the country after extinction.
The deaths sparked calls for the government to reconsider its commitment of sending more to India. SA committed to send 12 cheetahs to India annually for the next eight to 10 years.
It was revealed that three more cheetahs from Namibia had also died in India. Mortality stands at eight out of 20 sent for the programme.
“All the translocated cheetahs were released from quarantine bomas to free-roaming conditions in India’s Kuno National Park. The surviving cheetah club is still under veterinary care,” Creecy said, without providing reasons for the deaths.
The SA government offered to provide veterinary training support after identifying problems in the park.
“SA continues to monitor implementation of the cheetah reintroduction programme in India,” she said.
The first cheetah of the 12 from SA died in April. At the time, the department said there was no indication of infectious disease.
Creecy said a decision whether to send more would be made after assessments on the translocation have been done and the availability of cheetahs analysed.
Freedom Front Plus MP Tamarin Breedt, who flagged the mortalities in parliament, said it would not be a good move to send more cheetahs to India as the death toll continued to increase.
“Several animal rights organisations have been complaining that these cheetahs are dying, but the government had not confirmed the statistics. Now that they have confirmed, I find it shocking,” she said.
“We urge the minister to reconsider the decision to send more cheetahs to the country because if we do not know why these cheetahs die, what guarantee is there that more will not die?
“Before any more get sent, we need clarity on why it happens and how it can be prevented. We cannot send the animals for conservation if half of them die. We cannot continue with this programme when cheetahs end up dying because that is not adding to conservation — it is taking away from it.”
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