Born Free USA Blog
at the Ethiopian wildlife center.
(Born Free Foundation photo)
CITES Parties today considered the delicate issue of the trade in cheetahs from Africa to the Middle East. Born Free strongly supported the document presented by Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda, calling for an important study of legal and illegal trade in cheetahs.
Given a lack of comprehensive data regarding the nature and extent of the international cheetah trade, it is hard to determine the overall impact that the trade may be having on this iconic species; however, Born Free believes the trade to be increasingly problematic for the cheetah.
Born Free USA has first-hand knowledge of this issue as a partner of Born Free Foundation Ethiopia, which, in partnership with the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority, has established the Ensessakoteh Wildlife Rescue and Education Center outside Addis Ababa.
At the center, we care for a number of rescued animals, including cheetahs confiscated from the illegal pet trade. We have evidence of cheetahs being smuggled from either Kenya or Ethiopia to Somaliand as a transit point to the final destination. Current information suggests that this trade is continuing unabated and there may be dozens of illegally acquired cheetahs being held in the region.
We are honored to be working with the Ethiopian authorities to provide lifetime care for rescued individual animals, and we hope to release these animals back into the wild where possible. That said, the real goal should be to stop the illegal trade from creating this problem in the first place.
As CITES Parties know, more widespread anecdotal evidence suggests that the trade is extensive and hundreds of live animals a year may be leaving the Horn of Africa.
Born Free believes generally that wildlife belongs in the wild. And in the case of cheetah specifically, we surely believe that they belong in the wild, and not in the commercial pet trade.