8 cheetahs have died in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park, with some experts blaming them on substandard radio collars. Though the government dismisses the claims as “speculation and hearsay without scientific evidence,” NDTV obtained video of authorities checking a dead cheetah’s collar.

The video shows forest officials inspecting Cheetah Suraj’s radio collar and a maggot-infested wound on his neck, which died last week.

All of the cheetahs in Kuno are equipped with an African wildlife tracking radio collar, which is not supported by certain professionals.

“It can cause infection,” says R Sreenivasa Murthy, an IFS project manager who handled the reintroduction of tigers to Panna. In Panna, we experienced a similar issue, but we had 24-hour monitoring. If it is a synthetic collar, it must be replaced immediately.”

“It is a polymer; it is soft at first but hardens over time as it is polymerised.” “If it’s made of leather, it absorbs water, its elasticity increases, and the animal suffers little,” he continued.

According to a source, following Suraj’s death, another cheetah (Pawan) was tranquillized and his radio collar was removed on Monday, possibly sparing his life. Flies have already deposited eggs in its neck wound. Maggot-infestation may have killed Pawan if the cheetah had not been treated.

However, the government has transferred Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) JS Chauhan, but the collars remain. The Centre denies any lapses in the deaths, saying, “There is no lapse in any of the cheetah deaths.” Even in the case of the three cheetah cubs’ deaths, global wildlife literature clearly states that neonatal mortality among cheetahs is 90%.”



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