Rescued Somali cheetahs (© BFF)

The globally-recognised animal protection and wildlife conservation charity Born Free Foundation has called on global leaders to act swiftly to save the cheetah, in advance of the Meeting of the Standing Committee to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)

Born Free will have a delegation in Geneva, Switzerland, from 7-11 July when CITES delegates meet to discuss the illegal trade in cheetahs and threats facing the species.

Cheetahs may be the fastest land animals, but they are no match for the ruthless criminals who capture them from the wild and smuggle them to the Middle East where they are highly prized as pets. With cheetah populations plummeting to fewer than 10,000, the Born Free Foundation has issued an urgent warning for the international community to take action to stop the trade and protect vulnerable cheetah populations.

Adam Roberts, Acting CEO of Born Free Foundation and CEO of Born Free USA, who will attend the Geneva meeting, explains: “Born Free regularly encounters first-hand the consequences of this dire trade. Ensessakoteh, our Wildlife Rescue, Conservation and Education Centre in Ethiopia, is currently home to a number of rescued cheetahs and other wild animals. But these are the lucky ones. Many other unlucky cubs either die in transit to the Middle East, or face a lifetime as pets, with a chain around their necks.”

A recent study commissioned by CITES uncovered a thriving trade in live cheetah cubs, illegally exported from East Africa via Somaliland and Somalia, which are then imported to the Arabian Peninsula. Most of these cubs do not make it – with a reported mortality rate of 70% recorded from confiscations in Somalia and Ethiopia.

Somali Cheetah - (c) EthiopiaBorn Free will be calling on CITES Parties in Geneva to combat illegal trade in live cheetah, through enhanced enforcement at borders and the urgent development of improved legislative and regulatory controls. Furthermore, we are advocating that a stakeholder workshop be held in a cheetah range state to explore the main threats to the cheetah and identify sound strategies to minimise these threats.

Somali Cheetahs in crate (© BFF Ethiopia)

It is a true tragedy that these magnificent animals are being used for selfish human entertainment,” said Adam Roberts. “The fact of the matter is we have no idea how many cheetahs are being illegally captured each year, but there is no doubt that the consequences are having a devastating impact on wild cheetah populations. Decisive action must be taken before it is too late.

As this news is hitting the page, Born Free’s team in Ethiopia will be undertaking a long and difficult journey in an attempt to collect a rescued cheetah cub from Jijiga in the far east of Ethiopia close to the border with Somalia. Stephen Brend, who is leading this rescue mission alongside a colleague from the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority, plans to meet with the NGO German Agro Action, the temporary carers of the cheetah, to collect the cub who was confiscated at the end of May from Harirad. The cub, one of three males, is thought to be just three months old and sadly is the sole survivor of the trio. This is the fallout from the illegal cheetah trade and until the demand for these animals stops all together, then these youngsters will continue to die.

More news will follow on and the EcoTravelGuide team will also keep you updated