Assistant Director, Strategic Communications and Illegal Wildlife Trade
(2001 – present)
Patricia joined CCF in 2001, bringing with her a unique and diversified expertise resulting from +30 years in the private and public sectors at national and international levels. Her experience includes 15 years of public affairs and marketing for a Fortune 5 consumer goods corporation, as well as six years of public relations and international trade at a Mexican semi-private industrial development bank.
When Patricia began tackling the issue of illegal cheetah trafficking in November of 2005, little was known about the magnitude of this illegal trade. It was then that, together with CCF’s Executive Director, Dr Laurie Marker, Patricia organised the confiscation of two cheetah cubs held illegally at a restaurant in a remote area of Ethiopia. The confiscation took place with the support of the Ethiopian authorities and the United States Embassy and military personnel, which attracted unexpected media attention. As a result, reports regarding cheetahs being sold or held as pets throughout the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula began pouring in. It was then that she began collecting data on illegal cheetah trafficking, which she later expanded with her research into cyber-commerce. She also initiated a support network in relevant regions, organised confiscations whenever possible, and conducted research on numbers, routes, and drivers for demand and supply.
CCF’s illegal cheetah trafficking database became the most extensive in the world and was key to support the inclusion of this issue in the CITES 16th Conference of the Parties, following a proposal by Party countries Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda.
As CCF’s representative before CITES, she participated in an inter-sessional working group which culminated in a workshop in Kuwait, held in November 2015, where a group of 11 Parties and eight NGOs drafted recommendations that were adopted at the CITES 17th Conference of the Parties held in Johannesburg in September 2016. She has brought attention to the magnitude of cheetah pet trade on social media, and works with governments and other NGOs such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the Rangewide Conservation Program for Cheetahs and African Wild Dog (RWCP), the Born Free Foundation, and PEGAS (Project to End Great Apes Slavery) among others, to put the CITES recommendations into action.