10 young cheetahs – nine cubs and one adolescent – have been rescued from the illegal wildlife trade by the Somaliland Ministry of Environment and Rural Development (MoERD) and the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF).
Although this is a huge triumph for an animal whose numbers are dwindling at a frightening rate, it is also a sign that cheetahs as exotic pets are still very much in demand.
The three youngest cubs were in especially poor condition at the time they were confiscated from wildlife traders on their way to the Arabian Peninsula. Gail A’Brunzo is the Wildlife Rescue Manager for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). Her group is working in conjunction with the Cheetah Conservation Fund.
“CCF needed critical supplies if the cubs were to survive and IFAW was pleased to offer immediate assistance,” said A’Brunzo. “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.”
Although the United Arab Emirates have banned keeping cheetahs as pets, they are clearly still in demand. CCF estimates that approximately 300 of the cats are trafficked to the Arabian Peninsula each year.
The exotic pet trade, combined with habitat loss, conflicts with humans, fragmentation and loss of prey have nearly decimated the species. Conservationists are pushing to have their status changed from Vulnerable to Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
“With a total population of just over 7,000 cheetahs remaining in the wild, the taking of even one cub is a threat to the 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.
BREAKING: 9 cheetah cubs were just rescued by The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in association with the Somaliland…
Sadly, this is the case for this latest batch of rescued cubs. CCF and IFAW are currently searching for sanctuary placements, but the task is further complicated by the fact that current laws forbid them from being transported to other countries.
These cuties are certainly in the best possible hands, but the situation is a sad reminder that yet another species is facing extinction due to the selfishness of man.
H/T to Care2.com