Born Free has rescued two cheetah cubs from the illegal wildlife trade and given them a lifetime home at Ensessa Kotteh, its wildlife sanctuary in Ethiopia.
The male and female cubs, which are yet to be named, are thought to be siblings and about three months old. They were seized by the Somali State authorities in Ethiopia, having most likely been taken from the wild to meet the demands of the pet trade in the Middle East.
The authorities in Ethiopia had been caring for the cubs at a police station. Born Free was notified of their situation and were able to give them a lifetime home, once all relevant permissions had been issued authorising their relocation.
The journey to collect the cubs went ahead at the end of last week with assistance from Born Free's government partner the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA). The relocation was co-ordinated by Ensessa Kotteh’s interim Head of Centre, Bereket Girma, and undertaken by Kasu Welde, our Assistant Technical Manager and Tilahun Beyene, Cheetah Team Senior Animal Carer, who were accompanied by Daniel Assefa, Senior Wildlife Trafficking Officer at EWCA, and Yassin Ibrahim, Somali Region Forest and Wildlife Expert.
The cubs are active and alert, despite their ordeal, but they have a long road ahead. Both cubs are undernourished and walking with a slight limp, and the female also has two old but healing injuries to her front paws.
Maggie Balaskas, Born Free’s Animal Rescue & Care Manager, said: “We were incredibly lucky to be able to get the cubs to Ensessa Kotteh before further travel restrictions were put in place and Ethiopia went into lockdown. Both cubs have a good appetite and are eating and drinking, which is a positive sign. They have a long way to go, and we will know more in the coming days. Hopefully they will start to show signs of improvement and, once they have had time to adjust to their new surroundings, will then be given access to the outside part of their enclosure. For the moment, they are being closely monitored and receiving veterinary care to help improve their condition.”
“We would like to thank everyone who made this rescue possible, including the Somali State Authorities, EWCA, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and all our team at Ensessa Kotteh,” Balaskas added.