Illegal Wildlife Trade

Cheetahs are Africa’s most endangered big cat, listed as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Less than 7,500 cheetahs remain in the wild – worldwide. In the Horn of Africa, the population of adult and adolescent cheetahs is estimated to be less than 500 and the Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) of cheetah cubs poses a serious threat to the species.

CCF’s Work to End IWT

  • Developing regional education and community development initiatives
  • Assisting the Somaliland government in confiscations and transportation of cheetah cubs
  • Providing round-the-clock expert care to rescued cheetahs
  • Collecting and researching DNA samples to establish the origin of confiscated cheetahs
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CCF’s History of Action Against IWT

2005 – 2007: CCF began monitoring IWT of cheetahs. CCF became a founding member of the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT). While CAWT as an organization is no longer in operation, its members have branched out into focused groups around the world where they continue to work toward fighting IWT.

2011: CCF began assisting Somaliland with cheetah cubs confiscated from the illegal wildlife pet trade.
2013 - Now : The Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) tabled the issue of cheetah trafficking at its 13th Conference of the Parties (CoP13) held in Bangkok. Since then, CCF has been working with CITES and non-government organizations (NGOs), to address issues such as law enforcement, demand reduction, procedures for the care and placement of confiscated cheetahs, and cyber-crime.
2017 - 2020: CCF established three cheetah safe houses in Hargeisa, Somaliland with one vet clinic and a full staff team including a Project Manager, international and local veterinarians, cheetah care-givers and educators.

Not A Pet

Realities of the Illegal Wildlife Trade

The illegal trade in cheetahs is driven by extreme poverty in source countries and exacerbated by human-wildlife conflict. Cheetahs are very difficult to breed in captivity, therefore cubs are taken from the wild to satisfy demand of the illegal wildlife trade.

In the Horn of Africa, an estimated 300 cheetah cubs a year are taken from the wild to be illegally sold as pets. While in transit, the cubs commonly suffer from abuse, trauma and malnutrition – 75% of these cubs will die.

The majority of the survivors won’t live beyond two years.

How You Can Help

If you see or hear about illegal activities involving cheetahs or cheetah products, please contact us. Your report will be handled with absolute confidentiality.

Spread the word. Cheetahs (and other wild animals) don’t make good pets. They are incredibly hard to care for, need specialized diets, expensive veterinary care, and huge amounts of space to run and exercise in order to stay healthy.

IWT hashtags for social media
#endwildlifetrafficking | #endwildlifecrime | #savethecheetah | #stopcheetahtrafficking | #endcheetahtrade | #stopthecheetahtrade

Read and share CCF’s news about the cubs caught up in the illegal pet trade. By sharing these stories you may help increase awareness on the true toll of the illegal pet trade.

Engage in responsible tourism. Don’t buy products that are derived from endangered animals or patronize the stores that sell them, even if you’re told the products are legally obtained.

History of Cheetahs As Pets

For thousands of years, the elite of the ancient world kept cheetahs in captivity. The pharaohs of Ancient Egypt kept cheetahs as companions and represented them in artwork. Persian shahs, Italian nobles, Russian princes, and Indian royalty kept cheetahs for hunting and as status symbols representing their wealth and rank. Because cheetahs could not easily breed in captivity, individuals were taken from the wild to support the demand. The ancient pet trade diminished wild cheetah populations, especially in Asia. The demand for pet cheetahs is most likely the primary cause of the extinction of the Asiatic cheetah across the majority of its former range. Very small populations remain in the wild.

Sultan Ghazan Khan issues a new regulation for falconers and hunters, c. 1590., Werner Forman / Art Resource, NY

Illegal Wildlife Trade Partners

CCF has reciprocal relationships with other organizations working to combat the illegal trade in cheetahs.

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
Horn of Africa Enforcement Network (HAWEN)
Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)
International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
TRAFFIC - The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network
Legal Atlas

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