Cheetahs in particular appear to be regularly trafficked out of Ethiopia. Although Ensessakotteh now provides a safe haven for a small minority of these cheetahs, both the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA) and BFFE know that it is vital to address the source of this trade.
BFFE will assist via capacity building with EWCA as well as raising awareness through education programmes at Ensessakotteh and the feasibility of a cheetah rehabilitation and release programme within Ethiopia is currently being explored.
Four live cheetah cubs were found (and sadly one that had passed away) when officials from the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority became suspicious of noises coming from plastic containers allegedly destined for Somaliland. The four tiny cubs, estimated to be approximately seven weeks old, were confiscated. Sadly another cub later died but the remaining three, Timkat, Dembel and Arapea are growing into feisty and strong cheetahs at Ensessakotteh.
In 2006, a young orphaned cheetah cub confiscated from an animal trader was being looked after by an American veterinarian and his wife. With very lame back legs in addition to having been hand-raised, the cub would never be released back into the wild. Sheba (meaning “lame” in Amharic) as he was called, was therefore kept in an enclosure in Omo National Park where he spent a year and a half before Born Free was asked to look after him.
Thankfully, Sheba now resides in a spacious, naturalistic enclosure where he is able to stretch his legs and bask in the sun taking in the view.