FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HARGEISA, Somaliland (7 Sept. 2018) – Dr Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), issued the following statement today from her hotel room in Hargeisa, where she is providing around-the-clock care for a severely malnourished and dehydrated cheetah cub. Along with its sibling, the cub was stolen from its mother in a remote region of the country and held by villagers in retaliation for livestock predation. In addition, Dr Marker is monitoring the health of six cheetah cubs intercepted from smugglers on 5 August near the port city of Berbera. The cubs range between three and seven months of age and are being housed in a temporary shelter. All are in poor health. Working in collaboration with Somaliland’s Ministry of Environment and Rural Development, Dr Marker travelled from Namibia to provide emergency veterinary care for the animals.
“Cheetah poaching and cheetah trafficking in East Africa must be stopped, and it must end today. The wild cheetah populations in Ethiopia, Somalia and northern Kenya are already decimated, and the species is at risk for local extinction. Like most remaining populations in Africa, cheetahs in East Africa already face multiple threats, including human-wildlife conflict, loss of habitat and loss of prey base, fragmentation, and lack of genetic diversity. Taking individuals from the wild, whether in retaliation for predation or to eliminate a perceived threat, or to traffic in the illegal pet trade in the Middle East, will only lead to the species demise. Taking baby animals from their mothers when they are only weeks old is also just unbelievably cruel. It is heart-breaking to hold a tiny, helpless animal as it struggles for its last breath. I know, because this happened to me this week when one of the cubs died despite my repeated attempts to resuscitate it. I even called in a human doctor with oxygen, but our efforts were in vain. Cubs this young are extremely delicate, and we do not know how long they were deprived of food and water. Despite the odds being stacked against it, we will continue to fight for the second cub’s life. And we will continue to help our partners in Somaliland address the scourge of cheetah poaching and cheetah trafficking until eliminated”.
CCF has been working to counter poaching and trafficking since 2005. In 2011, CCF began building a network in Somaliland and establishing working relationships with local government authorities. Since then, CCF has assisted with the confiscation, care and placement of 49 cheetahs. On 28 August, a landmark victory was achieved in Somaliland courts when two subjects charged with wildlife trafficking were sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of U.S.$300 – the first conviction for illegal cheetah trade in Somaliland.