Cheetah Cubs Rescued from Illegal Wildlife Trade in Somaliland

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 Wajale on the 19th of 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 a critical condition, and every effort is being made to save them.

Please donate to allow us to help these cubs

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 shelter. 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).

The International Fund for Animal Welfare has stepped up to provide immediate funds to ensure the cubs are given urgent medical care, food and emergency shelter. CCF is now launching an urgent appeal to raise £17,500 for the care of these cubs and adults until a longer-term solution can be found.

Gail A’Brunzo, IFAW’s Wildlife Rescue Manager, said: “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.”

The Somaliland MoERD acted efficiently and 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.

The global wild cheetah population is already under huge threat, with numbers now estimated at just over 7,000. In a recent PNAS paper co-authored by CCF, scientists urged the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to upgrade its classification of the world’s fastest mammal from vulnerable to the more serious category of endangered. The illegal wildlife trade is one of the main threats driving the cheetah towards extinction.

Dr. Laurie Marker, CCF’s Founder and Executive Director, said of the confiscation: “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. We are exceptionally pleased to be partnering with IFAW moving forward to address this important issue.”

Patricia Tricorache, CCF’s Assistant Director for Strategic Communications and Illegal Wildlife Trade, added “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”


Please donate to allow us to help these cubs

About CCF (Cheetah Conservation Fund)

Founded in 1990, CCF is an international research, education and conservation institution dedicated to ensuring the long-term survival of the cheetah in the wild. From its field research base in Otjiwarongo, Namibia, CCF gathers and shares critical information on the species and uses it to formulate strategies to combat the species’ main threats, human-carnivore conflict, habitat loss and the illegal wildlife trade. For more information, visit Follow us on social media


About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on

@action4ifaw and Facebook/IFAW.


1 Mount Pleasant Avenue, Toddington, Bedfordshire, LU5 6EH

Jane Galton (CCF UK Trustee) +44(0)7791703546,

Emma Daley (CCF Publicity) +44(0)7772057841,

Melanie Mahoney (IFAW) +1(508)8157792,

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