‘In the Horn of Africa, conflict and illegal trade create a ‘cheetah hell’’ – Mongabay

  • Wild cheetahs are under intense pressure in the Horn of Africa due to human-wildlife conflicts and illegal trade, which takes about 300 cubs from the region each year, conservationists say.
  • In Somaliland, a country ravaged by climate change-induced drought, nomadic farmers will often kill or chase away cheetahs threatening their livestock, and either keep their cubs as pets or attempt to sell them to traders.
  • While the international trade of cheetahs is banned under CITES, animals continue to be smuggled from the Horn of Africa to the Middle East, via a well-established trade route between Somaliland and Yemen.
  • In addition to rescuing and providing long-term care for wild cheetahs, the Cheetah Conservation Fund and Somaliland’s Ministry of Environment and Rural Development are working to develop an education program that promotes coexistence between farmers and cheetahs.

The 8-week-old cheetah cubs should have been with their mother. Instead, they were penned up in a small village near Erigavo, Somaliland, after a group of nomadic livestock farmers chased the mother away and captured the cubs from a nearby cave.

“There were actually three [cubs],” Asma Bileh, a Somaliland veterinarian for the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), told Mongabay. “One died immediately … so they brought back two of them into their houses. They were keeping them for a while.”

One of the two cubs rescued near Erigavo, Somaliland on August 22, 2020. Image provided by Cheetah Conservation Fund and the Somaliland Ministry of Environment and Rural Development.

When Somaliland’s Ministry of Environment and Rural Development (MoERD) received a tip about the cubs, a rescue team, which included Bileh, traveled to the village on Aug. 22. The baby cheetahs were a little malnourished and dehydrated, having only been fed small portions of goat milk and meat, which hadn’t provided enough sustenance.

These cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) are among dozens of cubs that have been rescued by the MoERD-CCF team in Somaliland this year; as of this week, CCF reported a total of 29 rescued cubs since January, three of which have died. The reason for this onslaught of rescued cubs is human-wildlife conflicts between livestock farmers and wild cheetahs, as well as the illegal demand for wild cheetahs as pets in the Middle East, according to conservationists.

Read the full article on Mongabay here.

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