OTJIWARONGO, Namibia (9 February 2023) – Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) has received funding for five projects located in the Horn of Africa, each supporting the organisation’s efforts to end the illegal wildlife trade in cheetah. Four of the projects are new, and one is a continuation of a successful project. All activities being funded are critical and build upon past work dating back to when CCF first learned of the illegal wildlife pet trade in cheetah.
While trade in wildlife products is highly regulated by both international and national laws, cheetahs, listed as an Appendix 1 species under Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), are illegally removed from the wild in the Horn of Africa to supply the illegal pet trade. CCF research indicates as many as an estimated 300 cheetahs were taken from countries in the Horn of Africa to be sold as pets on the Arabian Peninsula during the decade 2010-2019. Most of them died before reaching their destination. For a species with low population numbers in the wild to begin with and fewer than 7,500 remaining, losses this great threaten the cheetah’s ability to survive.
CCF has been making tremendous inroads in the fight against cheetah trafficking over the past decade, both in Somaliland and the greater Horn of Africa region. Wild cheetah population research and conservation activities of CCF aim to increase law enforcement and community awareness where trade occurs have helped reduce the levels of illegal trade. CCF has recently been awarded several major grants to help support these endeavours:
- A two-year grant from International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Save Our Species Fund to assess Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) and Conservancies as viable wildlife management strategies for Somaliland, using Namibian and Kenyan models for guidance. The project runs from Jan 1, 2022-Dec 31, 2023.
- In partnership with Welthungerhilfe, CCF has been awarded a two-year grant from the European Union to develop governance structures in Somaliland within the central government and in local communities. Community leaders and parliamentarians are being trained to manage environmental issues under the law, including the illegal removal of cheetahs from the landscape. With the grant, CCF will launch its popular Future Farmers of Africa training in Awdal and Maroodi-jeeh, two regions of Somaliland where the majority of cheetah confiscations take place. This project began June 15th, 2022.
- CCF’s Legal Intelligence for Cheetah Illicit Trade (LICIT) project to combat the illegal cheetah trade will continue as LICIT 2, with CCF being awarded a three-year, grant to support the development of local governance structures in Somaliland’s Awdal region and to continue work on the revision of Somaliland’s Wildlife and Forestry Law. In addition, the grant supports the development of a wildlife crime database for Ethiopia and Somaliland and for advising the Intergovernmental Agency for Development’s (IGAD) Wildlife Crime Units through CCF’s grant partners. LICIT 2 is sponsored by the UK government (UKAID/Defra) and began July 2022.
- A grant from the Rainforest Trust to conduct the assessment, mapping and legal documentation of Geed-Deeble National Park. The one-year grant is slated to begin February 2023.
- A five-year research grant from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to look at wild populations of cheetahs in the Horn of Africa, focusing on areas where cubs are being sourced. The grant activities will begin in February 2023.
“These awards enable CCF to ramp up its work researching and developing longer-term holistic strategies to combat the live trafficking of cheetahs”, said Dr Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of CCF. “We are appreciative of the confidence placed in CCF by these agencies and grateful for the support. Together, we can stop this horrible trade”.
The projects address law enforcement, wildlife conservation, education, livelihood development and demand reduction. The strategies are centred on support for the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia and Somaliland’s ability to fight the trafficking of wildlife, a favoured transit route for cubs trafficked out of the Horn because of its geographical location along the coast and short distance to Yemen. The activities include increasing awareness as a top priority, capacity building, regional cooperation and, in the longer term, a sanctuary for confiscated wildlife.
(left) CCF vets xray one of the confiscated cheetahs cared for at CCF’s Cheetah Safe Houses in Hargeisa, Somaliland, (right) CCF Staff conducted Community surveys in the western part of Somaliland in 2022.
Since 2011, CCF has been assisting the government of Somaliland to care for cheetahs intercepted from traffickers. Up until 2016, CCF and its local associates transferred cheetahs confiscated in Somaliland to rescue facilities in neighbouring Ethiopia and Djibouti. In 2016, the government determined that confiscated cheetahs must remain in country. CCF began marshalling resources, and in April 2017, CCF created holding facilities to care for cubs in country known as the CCF Somaliland Cheetah Safe House.
CCF currently cares for 92 cheetah cubs in Somaliland’s capital city of Hargeisa. The animals were confiscated by the government and placed in one of three CCF Safe House facilities, which are temporary shelters. In December 2021, CCF and Somaliland sponsoring partner, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MoECC), began construction of the CCF Cheetah Rescue and Conservation Centre (CRCC) at Geed-Deeble (“Land of Trees”) to provide a permanent home for the animals. The CRCC is being built on 50,000 ha the Somaliland government has set aside to become its first national park. When complete, the CRCC will provide a permanent home for the cubs. CCF expects to complete the Phase One facilities and move the cheetahs to the new facilities by the second quarter of 2023.
CCF also educates the public about illegal trade. Even though the intrinsic nature of the illegal cheetah pet trade makes it difficult to collect full or reliable information, CCF has recorded hundreds of cases involving nearly 2,000 cheetahs. CCF participates in international forums to lead policy discussions involving the cheetahs, including CITES and Convention for Migratory Species (CMS).
Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) is the global leader in research and conservation of cheetahs and dedicated to saving the cheetah in the wild. CCF has created a set of integrated programmes based on its research to address threats to the cheetah and its ecosystem. Founded in 1990, CCF is an international non-profit organisation headquartered in Namibia with a field base in Somaliland. CCF will celebrate its 33rd anniversary in 2023, making it the longest running and most successful cheetah conservation organisation. For more information, please visit www.cheetah.org
Susan Yannetti, email@example.com or +12027167756