HARGEISA, Somaliland – 16 November 2023 – Community wildlife observers trained by the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Somaliland provided key information that aided law enforcement authorities in the recent arrests of six suspected cheetah traffickers, and the confiscation of two cubs, estimated to be only 4-5 weeks old.
The observers were trained as part of a European Union-funded project to help rural communities in Somaliland build capacity to manage their natural resources sustainably, including protecting wildlife and habitats. CCF’s partners in the project are World Hunger Help (WHH), the European Union (EU), and the Somaliland Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MoECC).
The Community Wildlife Observers were trained in species identification, field data collection, and GPS navigation, and supplied with mobile phones to record and send information. The information they gather contributes to a national wildlife crime database that CCF is developing together with the MoECC.
CCF Founder and Executive Director Dr. Laurie Marker said “the wildlife observer program is a key element of our work with communities in Somaliland to stop the illegal cheetah trade. Working in partnership with communities, government partners such as the MoECC, and civil society organizations to address the trade is critical. CCF is currently caring for nearly 100 cheetahs confiscated from traffickers. Many other cheetahs have not survived being poached and trafficked to meet the demand for exotic pets, putting extensive pressure on the wild population in the Horn of Africa region.”
Cheetahs are Africa’s most endangered big cat with only about 7,000 left in the wild.
Cheetahs, listed as an Appendix 1 species under the 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. Since 2011, CCF has been assisting the government of Somaliland in caring for cheetahs intercepted from traffickers, and with training and capacity building for law enforcement and the judiciary, as well as local communities.
The cubs, named Amina and Miss Behave, are in good health at CCF’s Cheetah Research and Conservation Center at Geed Deeble, Somaliland. On 15 November 2023, the cubs made a court appearance to ‘testify’ against the accused traffickers.
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Cheetah Conservation Fund
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 about CCF’s work and how you can help protect cheetahs in Somaliland and elsewhere, please visit www.cheetah.org
For media inquiries, please contact: Dr. Laurie Marker email@example.com +264811247887.