NEW DELHI: The Namibia-based Cheetah Conservation Fund, the donor agency that provided the eight cheetahs to India before they were released at Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park (KNP) on September 17, has not confirmed that any of the five female cats are pregnant, a top forest official of the state said on Sunday.
“There is nothing to support the October 1 media reports that one of the female cheetahs is pregnant,” Madhya Pradesh Principal Chief Conservator of Forests J S Chauhan. According to reports, one of the cheetahs, named Asha, has been “exhibiting all behavioural, physical and hormonal signs” of being pregnant. Asha was among the cheetahs picked from the Namibian wilds. But Chauhan, who dismissed the reports, said that “neither has the donor agency (CCF) confirmed nor have we conducted any test based on which it can be said that one of the cheetahs is pregnant”.
Wildlife Institute of India (WII) Dean and Senior Scientist Dr Yadvendradev V Jhala, who and eight other researchers have been maintaining round the-the-clock observation over the cheetahs, dismissed the reports as being based on “rumours”.
Disclosing that “ultrasonography tests were done on all the eight cheetahs”, Jhala said that “it is possible that she had embryos which were at a very primitive stage and the long, stressful long flight,” may have taken its toll. A WII researcher, who is part of team, also dismissed the reports, saying, “there is no indication that any of the female cheetahs is pregnant”.
Each of the cheetahs is in separate (50 mt x 30 mt) enclosures during the on-going month-long quarantine. “So there is no question that any male-female pair mated after reaching Kuno,” Chauhan said. The cheetahs “will be eligible” on October 17 for moving to the bigger enclosure 5.5 sq km where they will be able to hunt on their own, Chauhan said, adding that “depending on their health and adaptability, they will remain in these nine enclosures for three to four months”.