New Delhi: The programme of reintroducing cheetahs in India after 75 years has been called into question after deaths of six cheetahs including two cubs recently brought from South Africa.

Two cubs died in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park on Thursday. One of Jwala’s cubs died. The female cheetah gave birth to four children about two months ago. That is, out of Jwala’s four children, three children have died so far.

Earlier, three big cheetahs brought from South Africa had died in Kuno National. Therefore, a total of six cheetahs have died so far.

South African wildlife expert Vincent van der Merwe expressed concern over the death of the cubs and said that India should fence two to three habitats of cheetahs as efforts to resettle cheetahs in unfenced sanctuaries have never been successful in history.

Van der Merwe said more deaths are expected in the coming months during the cheetah resettlement project as cheetahs try to establish their territory in Kuno National Park and confront leopards and tigers.

Van der Merwe, who is closely associated with the project, said that although the number of cheetah deaths so far is within acceptable limits, the expert team that reviewed the project recently did not expect the male cheetah to kill the female South African cheetah while associating with it. 70 years after it was declared dead, ‘Project Cheetah’ has been implemented to resettle cheetahs in India.

Earlier, one of the Namibian cheetahs, Sasha, succumbed to a kidney ailment on March 27, while another cheetah Uday, brought from South Africa, died on April 23. Daksha, a female cheetah brought from South Africa, was injured due to violent behaviour while trying to mate a male cheetah and later died. A two-month-old cheetah cub died on May 23.

Meanwhile, first eight cheetahs were brought amid much fanfare and Prime Minister Narendra Modi released them on his 72nd birthday.

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