A smuggler was trying to hit the little ones from Somaliland, a breakaway state from Somalia when he was seized with power.
The trend is toward "epidemic proportions", according to CCF, an organization dedicated to the rescue of cheetahs in nature. At the current rate of traffic, the population of cheetahs in the region may soon be wiped out.
"If you do the math, math shows it's only going to be a matter of a few years [before] we won't have cheetahs," said Lori Marker, an American biologist for nature conservation and founder of CCF. the main transit route for cheetah traffic in the Horn of Africa Animals are smuggled across the porous border of Somaliland, then stored in tight crates or cartons of boats and sent across the Gulf of Aden to their final destination: Arabian Peninsula [1
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Status symbols for the rich
There are less than 7,500 cheetahs left in the wild, according to CCF. in captivity in private hands in the Gulf countries, CCF estimates where many of them are bought and sold in illegal online sales.
While many of these countries – including the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia – prohibit private property and the sale of wild animals, enforcement is dissolved.
Most of these cheetahs end up in the Arabian Gulf mansions, where Africa's most endangered big cats are seen as status symbols of the super-rich and mock social media posts, according to KKF and traffic experts.
In one such publication, a video shows a "cheetah" cheetah watching a National Geographic broadcast and becoming visibly excited when it sees one on screen. "She is family oriented," the caption reads. Other publications have shown cheetahs lying in luxury cars, getting into pools, getting ice cream and lollipops and laughing at a group of men. A cheetah is seen to become impersonal; another dies on camera.
For the cheetahs, life in prison can be deadly if the journey doesn't kill them first. Many smuggling toddlers arrive in the Persian Gulf with their legs smeared and broken after a rough trip. According to Marker, three out of four cheetahs die during the journey.
Being the fastest terrestrial mammal in the world, cheetahs need a place to run and a special diet. Most Gulf owners don't know how to care for cats, and most cheetahs die in a year or two, experts told CNN.
"These people who have cheetahs as a pet cause the species to disappear, ie. "Marker said.
Vets in the Gulf countries confirm this grim picture. They spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the problem.
" (Cheetahs) are doing terribly captive, "said a veterinarian.
The vet says he has seen cheetahs suffer from metabolic and digestive disorders because people do not know what to feed them, and he has also come across cheetahs with related illnesses. with stress and
Captivity is a "dead end for cheetahs," another veterinarian said. The big cat is a delicate species, especially susceptible to feline and infectious diseases, said the veterinarian.
In a statement to CNN's Climate and Ministry The UAE's environment denied that there were Chetniks in private homes in the country and said the country's cheetahs were in "licensed facilities." The ministry also said it routinely monitors online ads for the sale of endangered species, removing 800 such sites. now.
But CNN has seen a number of Emirati social media posts involving cheetahs in recent weeks, and veterinarians have told CNN that "we have treated dozens of cheetahs in private captivity, even though they have said they have declined in recent years several years. A veterinarian credits Somaliland rescues, tighter border controls in one emirate and tougher e-commerce police for the downturn.
Cheetahs for sale
A CCF survey last year documented 1367 rebels for the sale of social media platforms between January 2012 and June 2018, largely from Arab Gulf states.
Most of these sales were made on Instagram and YouTube. While ads for these sales are registered in 15 countries, more than 90% of them originate in the Gulf countries – up from 60% in Saudi Arabia.
The three best-selling home cheetahs worldwide are based in Saudi Arabia, according to CCF, and these Saudi sellers have posted one fifth of all advertisements.
With a simple Google search, CNN found an online Saudi market with ads for cheetahs, along with ads for cars and mobile phones.
"Whatever cheetahs you want, you will ask, we will bring. You want men, you want women. This is not a problem," the Saudi dealer told CNN by phone.
The seller boasts that he has brought more than 80 rebels to the kingdom. He told CNN that he had just sold out, but that he could deliver a cheetah within 25 days.
"From Africa … we import through a website with a person and have another Saudi merchant. He receives them for us. He buys them in cash and sends them to us immediately, "he explained.
The seller spun a fairy tale of cheetah farming on good farms. He recommended feeding them chicken, something that veterinarians say creates health problems.
He said that babies around the age of two or three months are offered, as are older cheetahs. Anything was possible, he said, at prices starting at 25,000 Saudi riyals ($ 6,600). He said he has been making discounts for more than one cheetah.
Other sellers found online on CNN sell for more than $ 10,000 per cheetah.
The Saudi Government did not respond to repeated requests for comment by CNN.
Illegal but lucrative
The trade in cheetahs is prohibited under Annex 1 to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). However, wildlife trading is big business and the seller that CNN is talking to is probably part of the larger traffic, according to law enforcement and traffic experts.
Wildlife trafficking is estimated at up to $ 20 billion annually, according to the UN and Interpol, and is among the top five illegal industries worldwide, along with drugs and human trafficking.
Illegal trade in animals used for Predominantly takes place on Facebook and Instagram, but Facebook has doubled the search for abusers, says Crawford Allen, a wildlife traffic expert at TRAFFIC at the World Wildlife Fund.
Facebook relies heavily on automated algorithms to detect forbidden content. They also have at least 5,000 manual reviewers, although most deal with other types of issues, such as terrorism and child abuse, rather than wildlife, according to Alan.
They are among a number of social media, technology and electronic communications. trading companies that have joined the WWF Coalition to End Wildlife Traffic Online, promising to reduce traffic by 80% by 2020
"Our community standards do not allow the sale of endangered species or parts of them, and we remove this material as soon as we are aware of it, "said a company spokesman on Facebook in a written statement. Facebook is the parent company of Instagram.
There has been some success in downloading illegal wildlife ads, with eBay removing 100,000 wildlife ads in two years, according to Allan. But police practice is challenging and criminals are adapting to changing methods of monitoring the Internet.
"There are enough places to hide on the open network," says Alan.
Cheetah Rescue Competitions
Somaliland is one of the least developed parts of the world and poverty drives people to deal with this illegal and highly profitable trading. But the government has told him it has prioritized the fight against wildlife traffickers in the last few years.
At the CCF shelter in Somaliland, 32 rescued orphaned cheetahs are rescued in a safe house that is now bursting at the seams. The harsh reality of cyber commerce is evident here. By the time the rescued toddlers arrive at the shelter, they are hardly alive.
International staff and volunteers rush to build a larger shelter, eventually releasing cheetahs in a wildlife sanctuary.
"I love them so much" I don't even see my mother once a week, "said veteran medical student Neju Jimmy, who lives in the shelter and is the primary caretaker of cheetahs.
More cats are currently in the basket: The cost is currently $ 10,000 a month, Marker tells CCF
Somaliland Environment Minister Shukri Hadji Ismail Bandare says there are only so many authorities that can stop the source "We need to stop demand from Arabs
Marker urged the leadership of these countries to raise public awareness of the issue.
"We really need influencers, we need
" If we can save them, we will we give the best life they can have, but they shouldn't. They're not in our care. They have to be in nature. "