For me, every day is a cheetah day, but this US Thanksgiving Day was one to remember. CCF’s Patricia Tricorache and I had been working for several days prior to coordinate the rescue of two orphaned cheetahs in Gode, Ethiopia. The cubs, estimated at approximately 5 months of age, were illegally purchased at a local market for 50 birr (or $6) by a local hotel owner. We have learned that there is illegal catching of young animals in southern Ethiopia (especially carnivores), which we have found are often sold to buyers in the Saudi Peninsula.
These cubs were tied to the ground by an 8-inch rope, and one of the cubs had a severely infected eye. They were reported to CCF by concerned representatives of the US military Civil Affairs unit based in Gode, who were offered the cubs for $1,000. Fearing that offering any amount of money for the cubs would encourage more poaching and further decimate the cheetah population, and realizing that this was illegal, the US military personnel contacted CCF for assistance.
Through our extensive network, we were able to coordinate a group of Ethiopian officials and concerned individuals, helped by representatives of the US Embassy in Addis Ababa, the US military unit, and the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Program to confiscate the cubs and fly them to Addis for veterinary attention and proper care and housing. Both cubs were malnourished, and the male’s severely infected eye will be reassessed as soon as he gains some weight and recovers from the stresses.
We cannot thank enough all the people who were involved in helping these cubs, especially the US soldiers and their families who took the time to find CCF on the Internet and report the cubs to us. CCF is also very grateful to all the US and Ethiopian officials, and to the members of the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Program, for having responded so efficiently and professionally to give those cubs a chance at a better life.
–Dr Laurie Marker