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No reason to disbelieve on Centre: Supreme Court on cheetah deaths

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      08 August, 2023 09:20 PM      0 Comments
No reason to disbelieve on Centre: Supreme Court on cheetah deaths

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday found no reason to disbelieve the Centre’s statement that it is making best efforts to prevent death of cheetahs, translocated from Namibia and South Africa, to Kuno National Park.

The top court, however, asked the Centre to consider the suggestions of experts panels formed by it in order to prevent deaths of Cheetahs in right earnest.

A bench of Justices B R Gavai, P S Narasimha and Prashant Kumar Mishra refused to issue any other direction to the Centre, saying the matter should be best left to the experts to deal with.

The court, however, noted the number of deaths was not low.

The government, in an affidavit, contended that out of 20 cheetahs relocated 14 are still surviving and six have died.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Centre, submitted that three more additional deaths, which are shown in media reports, are of the cubs of the translocated cheetahs.

The Centre said a panel of 11 members from international panel of cheetah experts has been set up.

The top court observed that Centre’s has made a statement that all international experts are being consulted to prevent deaths of cheetahs.

"We see no reason to disbelieve the statement made on affidavit. This is an area which is best left to the experts in the field as much as we do not possess any expertise in that field. As to whether a particular person needs to be nominated on the committee…it is a matter which is exclusively in the domain of the Union government," the bench said.

The court disposed of the application expressing concern over deaths of cheetahs in Kuno National Park.

Cheetahs were brought to the park as part of a reintroduction project after the species was declared extinct from the country in 1952.

During the hearing, Bhati said that the government is consulting experts and responding to new situations and taking all steps as even 50% of survival rate would work.

She said efforts were targeted for the cheetahs to get acclimatized to conditions here and the project is progressing well. She said the government will address with data on the factually incorrect media reports and explained that the spike in death numbers was due to the inclusion of deaths of cubs born to one of the cheetahs.

In its July 31 affidavit, the National Tiger Conservation Authority has told the Supreme Court that none of Cheetahs, translocated from Namibia and South Africa to Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh, has died due to unnatural reasons such as poaching, snaring, poisoning, road hits, electrocution etc.

It said that mortalities are not unduly alarming, though the situation is troubling and in need of redressal and curtailment.

"The provisional diagnosis of mortality events point towards natural causes... the NTCA today has no reason to believe that the mortalities were caused on account of any inherent unsuitability at the Kuno site," it said.

The NTCA further said that this is noteworthy to mention that the general scientific awareness is that being an integral part of the ecosystem, cheetahs in general have very low survival rates i.e. 50% in adults even in non-introduced populations.



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