Cheetah deaths-stung Madhya Pradesh shifts state chief wildlife warden

Aseem Shrivastava replaces J.S. Chauhan to the top wildlife post


Facing scrutiny over the frequent deaths of Cheetahs translocated to the Kuno National Park in Sheopur, Madhya Pradesh forest department, on Monday, shifted the principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) Jasbir Singh Chauhan.

He has been replaced by Aseem Shrivastava who was PCCF (production). Chauhan will take over Shrivastava’s post, a government order said.

The PCCF wildlife is also the chief wildlife warden (CWLW) of the state and thus the top boss of the wildlife division of the forest department. Chauhan, a 1987 batch officer, was on the post for more than two years and it was during his tenure that the Project Cheetah was given final shape and implemented in Kuno.

However, eight Cheetah deaths, including that of four adults, in less than four months, have put the glare very sharply on the Kuno National Park management. Though the state government did not give any reason for the shifting of Chauhan, it is being linked to the Cheetah deaths. Two Cheetahs died last week within a span of four days.

On Sunday, the implementing agency of Project Cheetah, the National Tiger Conservation Authority had termed the deaths of the Cheetahs as natural and said, “Project Cheetah is yet to complete a year and it will be premature to conclude the outcome in terms of success and failure since cheetah introduction is a long- term project.”

On Saturday, Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav had also shown optimism about the success of the project and said the cooperation of the people near Kuno National Park and the hard work of the forest officers were certain to bring good results.

However, a day later, the top officer of the wildlife division in the state forest department was shifted, indicating that his role might not have been satisfactory.

Activist Ajay Dubey, who had been demanding shifting of Chauhan and other local officers of Kuno National Park, said the action to shift Chauhan was right, but came late. He also reiterated the demand to shift Cheetah in-charge of KNP Uttam Sharma and the director of the Satpura National Park L. Krishnamoorthy, where the beheading of a tiger in the core area caused controversy recently.

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