Kuno: Aasha, the 5-year-old female cheetah and one of the eight cheetahs translocated from Namibia in September 2022, had strayed out of Kuno National Park over several months, travelling more than 200 kilometers.
Asha was first spotted outside the park in the first fortnight of April 2023. She was seen roaming in the fields and forests near the park. Forest officials tried to tranquilize her and bring her back to the park, but she was able to evade them.
Asha was again seen outside the park in the first week of May 2023. This time, she had traveled further away, and was spotted in the forests of Uttar Pradesh. Forest officials from both Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh worked together to track down Asha. They finally tranquilized her and brought her back to Kuno National Park on May 10, 2023.
The reasons for Asha’s wandering are not fully understood. Some experts believe that she may have been searching for a mate. Others believe that she may have been stressed by the unfamiliar environment of Kuno National Park.
Whatever the reason, Asha’s wandering is a reminder of the challenges of reintroducing cheetahs into the wild. Cheetahs are solitary animals and they need a large area of land to roam. Kuno National Park is not large enough to support a viable population of cheetahs, and there is a risk that Asha will wander off again.
The Indian government is planning to build a new cheetah reserve in Madhya Pradesh, which will be larger and more suitable for cheetahs. This will help to reduce the risk of cheetahs wandering off and becoming injured or killed.
In the meantime, forest officials will continue to monitor Asha and the other cheetahs in Kuno National Park. They will also work to educate local people about the importance of protecting cheetahs.
Asha’s story is a cautionary tale, but it is also a story of hope. With careful planning and management, it is possible to reintroduce cheetahs into the wild and help them to thrive.