Two cheetah smugglers were prosecuted in Somaliland, in the first wildlife criminal conviction of its kind in the country. Somaliland is considered a gateway in trafficking animals to the Gulf region.
At least 35 cheetahs are reported to have been traded so far this year. Conservation groups welcomed the pair’s arrest and prosecution, saying it demonstrated a genuine commitment to preventing this trade.
Authorities caught the smugglers in a raid in the Berbera district, 140 kilometres north-east of the capital Hargeisa, on August 5.
They seized six cubs aged between three and seven months. Patricia Tricorache, a spokeswoman for the Namibia-based Cheetah Conservation Fund, welcomed the arrests but said the authorities needed the continued international co-operation to intercept more cheetahs destined for the Gulf.
“This recent conviction of two cheetah smugglers is a first in the region and demonstrates the willingness of authorities to counter illegal cheetah trafficking,” she said.
“However, while 10 cheetahs have been confiscated in Somaliland this year, this represents only a third of all reported cases known to us there.
“The demand in the Gulf states appears to remain unchanged, with cheetah cubs still offered for sale there on social media.
“This year alone, CCF has recorded at least 35 cheetahs for sale by 18 traders in the Gulf, including two sellers in the UAE.” The Cheetah Conservation Fund is rehabilitating the rescued cubs, who were suffering from malnutrition and dehydration.
Source: The National, UAE