Illegal wildlife trade
The illegal trade in cheetahs is driven by demand for exotic pets in the Middle East as well as by extreme poverty in source countries and as a result of human-wildlife conflict. Cheetahs are very difficult to breed in captivity, therefore cubs are taken from the wild to satisfy demand, threatening the survival of the species in the wild.
In the Horn of Africa, the population of adult and adolescent cheetahs is estimated to be less than 500. Here, the poaching of cheetah cubs to meet demand for illegal pets poses a serious threat to the species and is exacerbated by human wildlife conflict from predation on pastoralists livestock.
- Assisting Somaliland’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MoECC) with cub rescue missions;
- Operating Cheetah Safe Houses in Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital city to provide immediate, 24/7 medical care to rescued cubs;
- Providing a close-to-nature home at our Cheetah Rescue & Conservation Centre in Geed-Deeble, Somaliland
- Banking DNA samples to establish origin of confiscated cheetahs and aid in investigations;
- Surveying wild cheetah populations in the Horn of Africa, which have never been counted.
- Training livestock veterinarians in wildlife medicine;
- Conducting outreach in communities where trafficking is known to occur;
- Training wildlife, police and legal officials in the Horn of Africa through a UKAID IT Challenge Fund – LICIT (Legal Intelligence/Cheetah Illicit Trade).
- Working with the Arabian Leopard Fund to reduce demand for illegal pets throughout the Middle East;
- Supporting the Horn of Africa Wildlife Enforcement Network (HAWEN) and national IWT Task Forces;
- Advocating at Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
(CITES), the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), and
One of the greatest threats to the cheetah in the wild is human-wildlife conflict. Over 90 percent of cheetahs live outside protected management areas, meaning that they live alongside human communities. Most of these are commercial and communal farming communities are raising cows, sheep, and goats.
To the communal farmers, the loss of even a single animal can be devastating. Cheetahs and other predators are commonly viewed as a threat to the livelihoods of the farming community. During the 1980’s, livestock and game farmers halved the cheetah population in Namibia. In response to the dramatic loss of cheetahs in Namibia, one of the very first programmes developed by CCF in 1990 where those mitigating human-wildlife conflict.
Farmer training and community outreach
- Responding to calls on our about problem predators on our free Farmer Carnivore Help Hotline and giving assistance in preventing livestock predation;
- Working with farmers to investigate, develop and implement predator-friendly livestock and wildlife management techniques;
- Distributing helpful educational materials to farmers;
- Exhibiting techniques at CCF’s Model Farm, where the farming community can see demonstrations and complete farming coursework;
- Promoting predator-friendly livestock management solutions in farmer publications, agricultural shows, communal meetings, and within agricultural coursework at colleges and universities.
Livestock guarding dog programme
- Breeding Anatolian shepherd and Kangal dogs – breeds that for millennia have guarded small livestock against wolves and bears in Turkey. The dogs are placed with Namibian farmers as puppies. They bond with the herd and use their imposing presence and loud bark to scare away potential predators;
- Research shows the dogs are highly effective. Livestock loss reduction rates are reported from 80 to 100 percent;
- Farmers adopt CCF’s LGDs and participate in ongoing education to support the dog’s development;
- CCF does on-site visits to ensure the dogs are settling into their guardian role and to follow-up on medical care.
Cheetahs have lost roughly 91% of their historical range, and the remaining populations exist within fragmented pockets. The result of human population growth, bush encroachment and increased land usage for farming means that the available land for cheetahs is continuously declining.
The open woodland habitat favoured by both cheetahs and farmers is under threat from bush encroachment, which affects roughly 45 million hectares of Namibian farmland. When these thick thorny plants grow over areas that were previously covered in grass, it means that cheetahs are no longer able to hunt there as they cannot see their prey, and livestock cannot graze there either. This pushes farmers and cheetahs closer together, causing even more human-wildlife conflict. Cheetahs do not thrive in protected areas due to competition from larger big cats and predators that live and hunt in packs, so other land management techniques must be utilised. This knowledge led to the development of our habitat restoration programmes.
Restoring habitat with Bushblok
- Removing thorn bush to produce a marketable product that provides a livelihood for local people, and benefits wildlife, the ecosystem and humans – Bushblok
- Producing biofuel logs that are high-heat, low-emission and can be used as an alternative source of fuel for cooking and heating, and are a much more environmentally friendly alternative to charcoal.
- Utilising the ‘conservancy’ wildlife management structure, allowing the local populace within a land management area to manage and reap the economic benefit of the wildlife treasures located there;
- Generating interest amongst the local populace in protecting and resisting outside influence from poachers;
- Managing a 142,483-acre reserve – part of The Greater Waterberg Landscape