CCF partners are caring for two new cheetah cubs in Somaliland. In May of this year we were contacted by one of our new NGO friends about two cheetah cubs and a young gerenuk being held illegally. Working together with the Ministry of Environment and Rural Development, the three animals were confiscated immediately and transported to our safe house in Hargeisa. The cubs were a bit skinny but overall healthy. We thought the bigger cub (about 5 months’ old) was male and smaller one (about 12 weeks) female so they were named Harry and Shakeera (a name chosen by the Env Minister). Establishing the gender of a cheetah cub is not easy, so just recently the caretaker found out that Shakeera wasn’t a she, but a he, so his name has been changed to Shakir. The cubs are now seven and five months old and are growing nicely. They are always playing or basking in the sun.
Update on Dhoobi: Also in May while the two new cubs were coming in, one of our cubs confiscated in Somaliland last July, began getting sick. Although Dhoobi’s condition did not appear serious, our vets and caretakers administered every possible treatment. Two weeks into treatment and diagnosis, he suddenly passed away. He was already a year old, and we thought, well past any dangers. It served as a reminder of how delicate cheetahs are.
We performed a necropsy, but the results were inconclusive. We suspect there may have been something wrong with his liver. The good news is that the veterinary faculty of University of Hargeisa was involved in the necropsy. Our hope is that we can do some veterinary training so that we will be able to work with the faculty and some of their outstanding/selected students. The inconclusive necropsy results do highlight some of the problems we face in the region. Although we are continually working to put some illegal wildlife trade (IWT) emergency response systems in place in Somaliland, the lack of infrastructure for disease diagnosis makes treatment very challenging.
Confiscated cheetahs go through high levels of stress and trauma in their early lives, which means that they are already weak when and if a confiscation can be organised. If we add to this the lack of infrastructure and diagnostic tools, the end result could be death despite every effort. Thankfully the other four cheetahs living in Somaliland (Indie, Veepi, Harry and Shakir) have shown no signs of a disease. Indie, at three years of age, appears to enjoy the presence of all animals currently under the care of our partners in Somaliland. Veepi, who came to us with severe Metabolic Bone Disease, or MBD, has shown great improvement on his legs thanks to the very strict diet and dedication of his caretakers; he walks without a problem and even runs in short and careful sprints.
Building partnerships is one of our priorities and strengths to fight all aspects of IWT, from supporting enforcement to reducing demand and ensuring the welfare of confiscated cheetahs. In this regard, stronger partnerships and the necessary funding are crucial for the early diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting cheetahs caught up in this destructive trade.