We are urgently working to stop the illegal trade in live cheetah cubs.
The population of cheetahs has dropped to less than 7,000 globally, with more than 4,000 cheetahs having been trafficked in the last decade alone. This level of trafficking represents an unsustainable loss, given the dwindling population of cheetahs in the wild.
Combined with climate change, habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict, and reducing numbers of prey species, the remaining populations of the cheetah are under intense pressure, and their medium- to long-term viability is not secure.
In the Horn of Africa, the Somali Regional State in Ethiopia has been identified as a cheetah trafficking hotspot where cubs are trafficked out via neighbouring Somaliland, the source, into the Arabian Peninsula, the market. Around 300 cheetah cubs are smuggled to be sold as pets each year, with 50% of those smuggled cubs dying due to inhumane treatment and transportation.
Cubs quickly lose their basic survival skills once they are taken from the wild. This means that, even if cubs are rescued, they can rarely be released back into the wild.
That is why IFAW has established the Countering Cheetah Trafficking from the Horn of Africa to the Arabian Peninsula (CCTHOA) project—to urgently stop the illegal trade in live cheetah cubs taken from the wild in the Somali region and trafficked to the Arabian Peninsula for sale as exotic pets. We’re focusing on stopping cheetah trafficking at its source, preventing animals from being taken from the wild.
To do this, the CCTHOA project is responding to several critical focus areas, including building stronger relationships between national law enforcement agencies in the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa to increase collaboration and coordination. Through working with several Wildlife Enforcement Networks (WENs), we are establishing common mechanisms to deal with live cheetahs seized, emphasising handling, care, evidentiary security, and repatriation. A centralised database we are developing to house all information on cheetah trafficking through Ethiopia will enable easy access to vital information across a vast network.
We deliver training workshops on wildlife laws to law enforcers and government officials living and working along known cheetah trade routes. We’re raising awareness of habitats and the critical role cheetahs play within theirs to benefit humans, other wildlife, and the environment.
We continue to work with local communities to protect cheetahs and slow the decline in wild populations into the future.
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The problems we face are urgent, complicated, and resistant to change. Real solutions demand creativity, hard work, and involvement from people like you.