In May 2019, CCF responded to an unprecedented crisis involving cubs caught up in the illegal wildlife trade in Hargeisa, Somaliland. The goal was to create immediate capacity in the Somaliland government to manage the ever-increasing numbers of cubs being confiscated from wildlife traffickers. To keep pace, CCF spent June to September upgrading the existing Cheetah Safe House while taking over its operations from longtime local caregiver, Gunther Wirth. In October, our CCF Somaliland team began the huge task of building a second facility (Safe House 2) to keep pace with the needs of the growing number and of confiscated, orphan cheetah cubs.
CCF officially opened its CCF’s newly-constructed Safe House 2 on March 1st, an outdoor facility measuring 200 meters x 40 meters in size, about 3.5 times the size of Safe House 1! CCF’s local foremen, Ismail, and his local staff, working under the combined management of Toni Piccolotti, Brian Badger and James Young, alongside many CCF volunteers have completed an amazing complex that will house the more than 30 cheetahs now within our care. As the cats settle in their new home, CCF’s Somaliland project embarks on its next phase.
In Early February, Dr. Laurie Marker and Dr. Bruce Brewer, CCF’s General Manager, traveled to Somaliland to welcome Jean Marc Froment, conservationist from African Parks Foundation (APF). CCF is working with the Ministry of Environment & Rural Development (MoERD) under Minister Shukri H. Ismail and Director General Abdinasir Hersi to facilitate the involvement of APF as a potential partner for Somaliland. CCF arranged for this visit and for meetings with the government to discuss Somaliland’s plans for creating protected areas. CCF is viewing one of these areas, known as Geed-Deeble, for a permanent cheetah sanctuary. This area is a large, undeveloped, national park with wildlife, water and plant life. It’s located about an hour’s drive from Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital city. CCF and MoERD have teamed up with the Hargeisa Water Authority, a local entity based at Geed-Deeble that supplies water to the city, to survey and map the area.
Moving forward with CCF’s Illegal Wildlife Trade capacity building efforts in the region, Dr. Marker visited Ethiopia with CCF’s Illegal Wildlife Trade lead, Dr. Shira Yasphe, to meet with representatives from government agencies in Addis Ababa and in Jijiga, the capital city of the Ethiopian Somali State that borders Somaliland. CCF’s objective is to help create a regional enforcement network along the most heavily traveled routes for smugglers. For cheetahs, one of the most significant routes that has emerged is between the Aw Barre Valley in Jijiga, Ethiopia, and the Somaliland coast at Zeila, with Borama, Somaliland, being the border cross-over point. Drs. Marker and Yasphe, established relations with the Somali State Task Force on Illegal Wildlife Trade, thus setting the stage for an event to bring together officials from Ethiopia and Somaliland for a summit on collaboration in the region.
In the U.S., CCF’s Susan Yannetti and Somaliland Head of Mission to the United States, Bashir Goth, traveled to White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, Florida, for a conference hosted by the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF). The three-day event brought together U.S. Congressmen, ambassadors from African nations, conservation NGOs, corporations and private investors to discuss challenges in the sector and build relationships. White Oak’s great setting, with its abundant and beautiful wildlife, and the unusually cold Florida weather, brought the group even closer together. They exchanged ideas and proffered solutions for conservation issues in between African wildlife viewing experiences and fireside chats in the lodge.
CCF has worked closely with with White Oak Conservation Center staff on cheetah issues and are currently developing care protocols for Somaliland cubs.