The Kuno conundrum: How to tell Elton from Freddie

Foresters at Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park have a question on their minds these days. How will they identify the recently reintroduced cheetahs once the big cats are fully released in the wild? Tigers have their distinctive stripes – one’s stripes famously read ‘CAT’ – but cheetahs?
India’s Project Cheetah has entered stage 2 with the animals moving from quarantine pens into hunting bomas (enclosures) prior to full release. So telling Elton from its brother Freddie, and Sasha from its friend Savannah, will be necessary.
But experts say identifying cheetahs from a distance is hard. “It’s difficult to differentiate two cheetahs based on morphology,” said Kuno’s field director Uttam Sharma. And the task will get harder once the cheetahs have cubs.
The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), which is training Madhya Pradesh forest personnel to handle the translocated…

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