Cheetah Conservation Fund Leadership Travels to the Horn of Africa to Address Wildlife Trafficking Threat
ADDIS ABABA – 7 March 2018 – Dr Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), and Assistant Director for Illegal Wildlife Trade, Patricia Tricorache, travelled from Namibia to Ethiopia and Somaliland during the first week of March. The two held a series of meetings with local government officials and wildlife organisations to discuss the illegal trade in cheetahs. Ethiopia and Somaliland, an autonomous region of Somalia, are areas of concern due to the high numbers of cheetahs smuggled through these countries into the Arabian Peninsula to supply the illegal pet trade.
In Somaliland, Marker and Tricorache met with the Minister of Environment and Rural Development, Hon. Shukri H. Ismail, and her staff. During three days of meetings, they discussed progress being made on strategies devised in April 2017, which include awareness campaigns, capacity building for law enforcement, and the development of a sanctuary to shelter confiscated wildlife. They also met with the Dean and Faculty of University of Hargeisa’s College of Agriculture, Veterinary and Animal Science, to assess the school’s expertise and laboratory facilities. The two organisations agreed to collaborate on emergency care for confiscated animals. They also identified areas where additional training is needed.
In Ethiopia, the pair met with Director General Kumara Wakjira Gemeda of the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA) and representatives from the US Department of State’s Regional Environmental Office for East Africa. The meeting coincided with EWCA’s celebration of World Wildlife Day, and culminated with a ceremony to mark the occasion. Director General Gemeda emphasised the importance of Ethiopia’s mandate to conserve its rich wildlife and affirmed his office’s commitment. Posters developed by the U.S. Regional Environmental Office were presented to attendees. The posters, developed in collaboration with CCF, depicted images of cheetahs and included messages in Somali language relevant to the illegal cheetah trade.
CCF began working with EWCA and the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa when it began its efforts to combat the trafficking of live cheetah cubs out of the Horn of Africa in 2005. Since then, a larger coalition of government entities and international NGOs have joined their efforts.
“Encouraging cooperation between the areas in the Horn of Africa along the trafficking route into the Arabian Peninsula is a crucial element of our work. We are grateful to the governments of Ethiopia and Somaliland for their active involvement in these efforts”, said Dr Marker. “It is important to remember that live animals poached for the illegal trade are in most cases unable to return to the wild, and thus, they cannot contribute to conservation of their species. Although their images do not generate the same emotional reaction as those of elephants and rhinos killed by poachers, the impact of their loss is felt just as much”.
Since 2005, in Ethiopia and Somaliland, over 50 cheetahs have been confiscated from poachers and smugglers, along with many other wild species. Currently, CCF associates in Somaliland are caring for more than 30 animals confiscated by regional wildlife officers, including three cheetahs and five caracals. The centre is phase one of a longer-term effort to house confiscated cheetahs. which requires a larger investment to provide appropriate enclosures, specialized care and round-the-clock security. For more information or to donate to the project, please visit www.cheetah.org.