The two male cheetah siblings, who were released into a larger enclosure at the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh, have made their first kill within 24 hours of their release from quarantine. The cheetahs hunted down a cheetal or spotted deer somewhere between 6 pm Sunday and Monday morning, according to forest department officials.
Freddie and Elton were the first pair to be released into the larger enclosure on November 5 after being quarantined for about 50 days. A senior forest official told The Indian Express, “The cheetahs making their first kill within 24 hours is beyond expectations. This signifies that the big cats are absolutely fit and the worries of these cheetahs losing any muscle strength owing to the time they spend in quarantine is unfounded.”
While Freddie and Elton became the first pair to be released from their quarantine, forest officials said they are taking a staggered approach to releasing the remaining five cheetahs. The officials will monitor the two cheetahs for about two days using satellite collars and cameras before releasing another. Forest officials are still observing one of the female cheetahs Asha, who was speculated to be pregnant, and will release her after November 10.
The cheetahs were declared extinct on Indian soil in 1952 after the last one was killed in 1947. In a bid to reintroduce cheetahs in India, the government under Project Cheetah had translocated eight of these big cats—including five females and three males—from Namibia. The male cheetahs are aged between 4.5 years to 5.5 years while the five female cheetahs are aged between two to five years. Elton and Freddie had been living in a 58,000-hectare private reserve of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) near Otjiwarongo in Namibia.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had released three cheetahs in Kuno-Palpur National Park on September 17 and called it a historic moment. On Saturday, he expressed happiness at the cheetahs being released into their larger enclosure and doing well.