In the Horn of Africa, cheetah smuggling has become a problem, with many of the animals being taken to Gulf countries to be used as pets.
The cheetah is the fastest land mammal, capable of speeds of over 60 miles per hour. But they also have another feature: they are the rarest of the big cats in Africa less than 7,000 individuals live in the wild.
Animals at the Somaliland Heritage Cheetah Sanctuary have been saved from an uncertain future. According to the center, cheetahs are often poached in Horn of Africa countries such as Kenya, Somalia andEthiopia. Instability and high levels of poverty have allowed this illegal trade to flourish in recent years, leading to a decline in the number of cheetahs in the wild.
in Somaliland Heritage Cheetah Safe House is a rescue center that protects these animals from illegal pet trade. Cheetahs have a very difficult life when they fall into the hands of poachers and human traffickers. They are usually sold to the Arabian Peninsula where they are sold as pets to the highest bidder.
Illegal wildlife trade
Traffic conditions for these animals are generally poor, and many cubs die before reaching their destination. According to Patricia Tricorash, an expert on illegal wildlife trade (IWT) Cheetah Conservation Fundthe animals are usually caught when they are very young and are often subjected to inhumane treatment during transport.
“They are usually between two and four weeks old at the time of capture, which means they receive no food from their mother, and are then transported in very harsh conditions. They are poorly fed, sometimes misbehaved“, she says.
Ms. Trikorash adds that most often people who buy these animals do not know how to take care of them. They don’t know how to feed the cheetahs or what medicine to give them when they are sick. “You can find cheetahs if you see on social media, they live in small yards or in living rooms, they play with them very roughly and it is very stressful for the animals” she claims.
Huda Ali Banfas is the president of the rescue center and is responsible for the care of the rescued cheetahs. It shows the small boxes in which animals are often transported.
“This yellow bucket here is also one of the unloading boxes for human traffickers. In 2019, we had three puppies in this bucket. If you see, it is so small and it is not good for the animals to be inside it. But these distribution boxes are used by smugglers for cubs.“
According to Thomas Maule, a conservationist fromAfrica Conservation Alliancecheetahs in the Horn of Africa are now endangered.
“Cheetahs are endangered big cats. Cheetahs usually live in semi-arid areas, so the consequences of climate change are very serious for the animal. The animal lives in very large areas, and simply managing protected areas is usually not enough to protect it in the wild.“, Mr. Maul explains.
He adds that “Currently, there are only about 7,000 cheetahs left in the wild in the world, which is actually a very, very small number at best.“
Cheetahs are classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species.