International Collaboration

Sleepless in Somaliland

  • by Dr. Laurie Marker October 12, 2020
Sleepless in Somaliland

I recently went to Somaliland to meet the new team members working at CCF’s Cheetah Safe House. We hired a few people during the pandemic and it was not possible for us to do in-person interviews as the Namibian border was closed to international travel. I worked with CCF’s new staff, lead vet, Dr. Mahesh Bhatt, and nursery care vet, Dr. Laura Ryan, on one of the cheetahs, Duma, that has had a pelvic fracture about 6 weeks earlier. We did some follow-up x-rays and it was very good to do a workup with the new team. Also, our new x-ray equipment worked very well. It was great to have the opportunity to learn together in using this new equipment. Our new vets are very good, and I was pleased to be able to see Dr. Bhatt’s skills and style first-hand.

CCF’s other Somaliland staff include: Joe Bottiglieri, CCF’s Program Manager and Head Keeper. Joe has been in Somaliland since March and has helped move cubs into the new Safe House 2 which we opened when I was in Somaliland in early March. During the last couple months, he has oversighted the rebuilding of Safe House 1 and has now begun on Safe House 3 – as we now have over 60 cats to take care of. Also, Yoanna Martin just joined us. She has years of animal care and nursery experience with the critically endangered Iberian lynx. Local staff members, Hamsa. is helping Joe in oversight of the building project and getting the supplies needed for the day-to-day. We also recently added a local environmental educator, who has just graduated from University of Hargeisa, Ladan, who also helps with morning cub care since there are so many cubs now. Ladan will soon begin traveling to schools along with Kaitar Ivan who just joined us, with wildlife educational skills as well as being an experienced cheetah keeper. The two of them will soon be conducting environmental education presentations at schools and gearing up for International Cheetah Day.

I was very happy to be able to help everyone to streamline workflow and also to give them a much needed helping hand with on-going cub care. The days are long starting at 8:00 am and end at 10:00 pm. They are also on hand in case any animals need assistance in the middle of the night. The team in Somaliland are all very tired! They have spent the past month or so helping the Somaliland Ministry of Environment and Rural Development (MoERD) in cheetah confiscations, we got over 20 cubs in over two months. We now have nearly 60 cheetahs being caring for at our Safe Houses – mostly cubs… phew!

We spent one morning up at Geed Deeble, the area we hope to begin building a large sanctuary. The Head of the UK Office in Somaliland Mr. Stuart Brown has become a great friend of the cheetah and CCF. His security team, several of whom have volunteered helping in the building of our Safe Houses in the past, accompanied me, Joe, Hamsa and the Ministry of Environment and Rural Development’s (MoERD) Director General, Abdinasir Hersi, and Director of Wildlife, Director of Wildlife, Abdi Nassir Hussein, to look around for sanctuary building sights. We also had a several government meetings while I as in town with the Admiral of the Coast Guard, Mohamed Hussein Farah, to discuss the LICIT grant, and the Director General of the Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Ali Dalit to discuss how to begin building awareness campaigns for stopping the Illegal Pet Trade in cheetahs. I also met with the with the Minister of Trade and Tourism, Mohamoud Sa’ad, and the Director General of the Ministry of Livestock, Ali Nur, and Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Ahmed H. It was a fast and jam-packed trip.

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