Member countries of CITES today considered the delicate issue of the trade in cheetah 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 cheetah.

Given a lack of comprehensive data regarding the nature and extent of the international cheetah trade, it is currently 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 has first-hand knowledge of this issue through its work at Born Free Ethiopia, which, in partnership with the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority, has established the Ensessakotteh Wildlife Rescue and Education Centre outside Addis Ababa.

At the centre, we care for a number of rescued animals, including cheetah confiscated from the illegal pet trade. We have evidence of cheetah 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 cheetah being held in the region.

We are honoured 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 member countries to CITES 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 that wildlife belongs in the wild and in the case of cheetah, not in the commercial pet trade.

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