Four cute cheetah cubs are all that remain of a consignment of smuggled big cats
Six of the precious creatures have perished after the trafficking plot was cracked by law enforcement officers.
One of the cheetahs was shot by police when it managed to escape from a compound before it could be treated by vets.
Five others succumbed to the horrendous treatment they endured at the hands of traffickers after being stolen from the wild.
Determined conservationists are caring for the remaining four cheetahs with a hope that one day they may be released.
Plundering these rare creatures to become expensive novelty pets not only puts individual animals at risk but threatens the entire existence of cheetahs in Africa.
Fewer than 7,000 survive on the continent’s arid savannah, but each year 300 vanish to become luxury accessories for rich, young Arabs to flaunt with their sports cars and speedboats.
The cubs were on their way to become status symbol pets for Middle East playboys
The demand has put a high price on cheetah cubs and smugglers will go to extreme lengths to traffic them from East Africa to the Middle East — without thought to the young animals’ welfare.
This is the reality of illegal wildlife trade
Even the efforts of the authorities do not always augur well for the felines listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. Cheetah cubs stolen from their mothers at a young age have the negligible chances of survival.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Cheetah Conservation Fund worked together to care for the ten animals when they were seized by officials in the Wajale area of Somaliland last month, but today reveled how six of them subsequently died. One shot, the others too weak and poorly from their ordeal at the hands of the smugglers.