One of the Namibian cheetahs released into Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park in March sneaked out of the protected area and ventured into a village 20 km away on Sunday (April 2).
According to Sheopur divisional forest officer (DFO) PK Verma, the cheetah named Oban entered an agricultural field next to Jhar Baroda village in Vijaypur, some 20 km away from Kuno National Park. A monitoring team has reached the village and efforts are underway to bring the cheetah back.
Oban, a male aged five years, was brought from Namibia and released into Kuno National Park in MP’s Sheopur district on March 11. However, the 748-sqkm national park evidently wasn’t enough for the adventurous big cat.
Also read: Sasha’s death in Kuno: A few blips won’t mean the end of Indian cheetah saga
“Oban, go, go, go”
TOI quoted an official as saying that Oban had been testing the boundaries of the national park since his release. Cheetahs have a huge territory to explore in the wild and males usually hold a larger territory than females, the official told the newspaper.
Sheopur, Madhya Pradesh | Cheetah Oban, one of the cheetahs brought from Namibia, entered Jhar Baroda village of Vijaypur which is 20 kms away from Kuno National Park. Monitoring team has also reached the village. Efforts are underway to bring the cheetah back: DFO
— ANI MP/CG/Rajasthan (@ANI_MP_CG_RJ) April 2, 2023
“According to the signals from its collar device, the cheetah was moving towards the village from Saturday night. It is sitting at the spot and a police team is monitoring the situation and keeping villagers away. Forest department staff are trying to send it back into the park area,” DFO Verma told PTI.
In a video clip shared by forest department officials, Oban is seen from the other side of a barbed-wire fence and people are heard trying to coax him to get back into the forest. However, Oban seems to be in no mood to heed to the “Oban, go, go, go” and “move, move, move” commands and instead settles down in the grass comfortably.
Cheetahs are back in India almost 75 years after their extinction in the country. Twenty cheetahs were brought to India in two batches — eight from Namibia last September and 12 from South Africa in February — as part of Project Cheetah.
In a setback, a female named Sasha died of a kidney ailment on March 27. However, within two days, a cheetah called Siyaya gave birth to four healthy cubs on March 29. So, in all, India currently houses 23 cheetahs.
So far, four out of the eight cheetahs brought from Namibia have been released into the wild (free range area) from hunting enclosures. Oban and Asha were released into the wild on March 11, while Elton and Freddie, also known as “rockstars” due to their names, were allowed to move into the free range area on March 22.
(With agency inputs)