(Washington, DC – April 24, 2017) Nine cheetah cubs and one sub-adult were confiscated from illegal wildlife traders by the Somaliland Ministry of Environment and Rural Development (MoERD) with assistance from Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in El Sheik and Wajel, respectively, on 19 April.
The cubs were destined for the Arabian Peninsula where the illegal market for pet cheetahs is estimated at 300 animals per year. The three youngest cubs were found in extremely poor health, and every effort is being made to save them.
In a separate incident on the same day, CCF learned that three older cheetahs had reportedly escaped from a trafficker in the Wajale area bordering Ethiopia and entered the town. Two of the animals were captured by the police while the third was still loose. With support from the Minister of Environment and Rural Development, who approved a confiscation, CCF recovered one of the cheetahs and is in negotiations to recover the second. A search for the third one is underway.
CCF has partnered with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to ensure the cubs are given urgent medical care, food and appropriate emergency housing. CCF and IFAW began collaborating on the issue of illegal cheetah trade in 2014 in the context of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
“CCF needed critical supplies if the cubs were to survive and IFAW was pleased to offer immediate assistance. Wild cheetah populations are in dire trouble, largely due to demand for cubs as exotic pets. The cruelty of live animal trade is shocking and we are doing all we can to save these cubs,” said Gail A’Brunzo, IFAW’s Wildlife Rescue Manager.
The Somaliland MoERD showed great leadership in acting swiftly against these cheetah traffickers. CCF and IFAW are engaged in discussions with the Ministry on how to provide long-term care for the confiscated cheetahs, which cannot be transferred to sanctuaries in nearby countries as current laws do not allow for confiscated animals to be transported across borders.
“With a total population of just over 7,000 cheetahs remaining in the wild, the taking of even one cub is a threat to species’ survival. This is particularly concerning as trafficked cubs are usually removed from their mothers at very young ages — less than 3 months — which means that they have not had enough time to learn skills necessary to survive in the wild and will in most cases require life-long care,” said Dr. Laurie Marker, CCF’s Founder and Executive Director. “We are exceptionally pleased to be partnering with IFAW moving forward to address this important issue.”
“Through this week’s confiscations, the Somaliland authorities are sending a clear message to traffickers that the trade in live cheetahs will not be tolerated,” added Patricia Tricorache, CCF’s Assistant Director for Strategic Communications and Illegal Wildlife Trade.
Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent Joins Fight to Save Wild Cheetahs as Cheetah Conservation Fund’s First Royal Patron
OTJIWARONGO, NAMIBIA (6 April 2017) – Cheetah Conservation Fund’s (CCF) mission to save the world’s dwindling wild cheetah population has been energised by the addition of Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent as the organisation’s first-ever Royal Patron. Inspired by her long-time interest in cheetahs and an introduction by CCF UK Patrons Jonathan and Angela Scott, HRH Princess Michael of Kent travelled to the “Cheetah Capital of the World” in March at the invitation of CCF’s Founder and Executive Director, Dr Laurie Marker. HRH Princess Michael of Kent visited CCF’s research base near Otjiwarongo, Namibia, where she endeavoured to build a foundation of knowledge about the species’ plight and determine ways she could help.
“HRH Princess Michael of Kent and I share a common interest in the cheetah. She raised an orphan cub as a teenager in Mozambique, and she has carried that experience forward in life”, said Dr Laurie Marker. “During her week at CCF, our staff presented information about our programmes to conserve the species, from livestock guarding dogs, genetics, habitat restoration and cheetah reintroductions, to our education initiatives”..
HRH Princess Michael of Kent toured CCF’s Field Research and Education Centre over the course of five days to familiarise herself with CCF’s Model Farm, veterinary clinic, conservation genetics laboratory and Biomass Technology Demonstration Centre. She met with staff administering CCF’s Future Farmers of Africa and Livestock Guarding Dog Programmes and accompanied CCF scientists to Erindi Private Game Reserve to observe the release of three cheetahs back into the wild. HRH Princess Michael also helped dedicate CCF’s new Cheetah View Lodge, a five-suite accommodation for overnight guests set to open this June. Following the tour, Dr Marker escorted HRH Princess Michael of Kent to Windhoek to facilitate introductions and strategize with CCF Namibia Board members and the Honourable Professor Peter Katjavivi, CCF’s International Patron and Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia.
HRH Princess Michael of Kent has long been associated with the feline icon of speed and grace. During the 1960’s she raised a cheetah from a cub, chronicling that experience in a book she authored about her African travel experiences to be published in September, A Cheetah’s Tale. She met Dr Marker at a CCF event in the UK in 2016 and expressed her desire to support in cheetah conservation efforts in Namibia. HRH Princess Michael has been active in wildlife conservation throughout her life, and for the past 20 years, she has been a Royal Patron for the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre in South Africa.
“We are deeply honoured to welcome Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent to Namibia and are thrilled to have her support as CCF’s Royal Patron”, said Dr Marker. “The more people who learn about the cheetah’s problems, the greater the chance we have of saving the species. HRH Princess Michael of Kent represents a brilliant beacon of hope not only for the cheetah, but for the people who live with the species, in Namibia and throughout its African range”.
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