By: Patricia Tricorache
Somalilandsun-In line with strategies designed in collaboration with Somaliland’s Ministry of Environment and Rural Development (MoERD) last April, local CCF’s associates set up a booth at the Hargeisa International Book Fair to raise awareness about illegal wildlife trade, with emphasis on cheetahs. The well-attended book fair was held from July 22 to 27, 2017. Fliers and postcards with the message “It is illegal to capture the country’s wildlife” in Somali where handed out to visitors, along with copies of Somaliland’s Forestry and Wildlife Protection Law.
Writer and photographer Huda Ali Banfas, who graciously shared and manned the booth promoting her new book “Natural Resources” (“Kayd Deegaan”), reported that visitors were unaware of the Law. They also expressed surprise when learning that cheetahs and other wildlife are often removed from the wild for the illegal pet trade.
With declining populations, the Horn of Africa is an area of much concern for cheetah conservation. As many as 300 cheetah cubs are estimated to be smuggled out of the region every year for the illegal pet trade in the Arabian Peninsula. Many more die in the process.
Somaliland, on the Gulf of Aden facing Yemen, has been identified as a preferred transit route for wildlife trafficking. As such, CCF and its local associates joined forces in 2011 to fight the illegal wildlife trade in Somaliland. Together we collaborate with authorities and have been able to rescue nearly 40 cheetah cubs. However, in addition to confiscations, it is important to address the issues that drive the supply.
Union makes strength, and we are not alone in our efforts to stop illegal wildlife trade in Somaliland. Over the years, we have built partnerships with several institutions, including the MoERD, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the Horn SPCA, Colorado State University, the Candlelight Foundation and the Somaliland Biodiversity Foundation. We also work with DECAN Djibouti and the Born Free Foundation Ethiopia, which have kindly received and cared for some of the rescued cheetahs. Together, and as part of a larger effort across the Horn of Africa, we are making every effort to raise funds and implement our strategies: education and awareness, capacity building in the areas of enforcement and wildlife husbandry, and the establishment of a sanctuary for confiscated animals. Our ultimate goal: to stop the trade.