Two cheetahs brought from Namibia drew first blood after they hunted down a cheetal (spotted deer) in the wee hours of Monday
It was their first kill within 24 hours of their release from a quarantine area to a larger acclimatization enclosure
This was also the first prey of the felines after their translocation from Namibia to India in mid-September along with six other cheetahs, the official said.
The cheetahs — Freddie and Alton — were the first pair to be released into the larger enclosure on Saturday after being quarantined since September 17.
The successful first hunt by the cheetahs within 24 hours of moving to the larger enclosure has also allayed the park management’s concerns about their prey-hunting ability.
“The cheetahs eat their prey within two hours of hunting,” Sharma said.
He said the two cheetahs were released in the larger enclosure spread over 98 hectares from a quarantine zone on Saturday.
The other six cheetahs will also be released in a phased manner, he said.
The eight cheetahs– five females and three males in the age group of 30-66 months — were released in the dedicated quarantine zones in the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh on September 17 at a function by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, heralding the return of the big cats to India 70 years after they were declared extinct.
Cheetahs named Freddy, Alton, Savannah, Sasha, Obaan, Asha, Cibili, and Saisa – were to be kept in quarantine for a month.
According to international norms, wild animals must be kept in quarantine for a month to check the spread of any infection before and after their translocation to another country, experts had said.
Since their release on September 17, the eight cheetahs were housed in six ‘bomas’ (enclosures), two of which are 50 meters x 30 meters while the rest four measured 25 square meters in area.
They were provided buffalo meat, the officials had said.
The last cheetah died in India in the Koriya district in present-day Chhattisgarh in 1947 and the species was declared extinct in 1952.