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Cheetahs get a new chance for survival as CITES CoP17 approves important decisions concerning their illegal trafficking

PRESS RELEASE

10.04.2016

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Cheetahs get a new chance for survival as CITES CoP17 approves important decisions concerning their illegal trafficking

Johannesburg, South Africa (4 October 2016) – During Plenary Session today, seven important decisions to fight the illegal trade in cheetahs were adopted unanimously at the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) of the Convention of International Trade on Endangered Species (CITES). CoP17, attended by delegates from over 180 member countries, is being hosted in Johannesburg by the South African Republic.

The cheetah faces many threats, such as habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict and climate change. Cheetahs skins and bones are trafficked for traditional medicine or fashion. However, a little-known threat to the fastest mammal on earth is its trafficking for the illegal pet trade. In order to increase awareness and to deter dealers from utilising internet platforms, including social media to sell cheetahs, a decision to engage these platforms was approved. This is considered a crucial step, as an average of over 250 cheetahs are offered for sale every year –mostly on social media, according to ongoing research by the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF). CCF was represented at CoP17 by Executive Director, Dr. Laurie Marker, and Assistant Director for Strategic Communications and Illegal Wildlife Trade, Patricia Tricorache, who raised awareness among participants and worked alongside Parties and non-governmental organisations to promote awareness.

To support enforcement in the identification of cheetahs and parts and derivatives, as well as guidance on procedures after seizures, including DNA sampling, immediate and long-term care guidelines, and a list of suitable housing facilities, the Conference also approved two decisions concerning the development of a Cheetah Trade Resource Kit.

“Cheetah is the least aggressive of all the big cats, and thus a preferred pet for many people in some areas the world. Unfortunately, most of these animals are sourced from the wild, mainly northeast Africa, putting wild sub-populations under tremendous pressure,” said Dr Laurie Marker, CCF’s Executive Director. “The decisions adopted today at CoP17 are a very important first step, and the culmination of a 3-year effort by a coalition of many countries led by Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, who submitted the issue to CITES for the first time in 2013, and by a working group of member Parties and non-governmental organisations chaired by the State of Kuwait.”

Also adopted was a decision involving the creation of a CITES Cheetah Forum, which will become a valuable tool to enable all stakeholders, including CITES member parties, experts, and non-governmental organisations to share information about cheetahs, thus expanding the knowledge about the species.

In addition, an amendment proposed by the State of Kuwait involving the reporting on recommendations approved at the 66th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee Meeting (SC66) held last January in Geneva was also adopted today. SC66 recommendations call for improved enforcement, communications and collaboration among relevant countries, development of awareness campaigns to reduce demand, as well as cooperation in the placement of confiscated specimens.

Member Parties as diverse as Kuwait, Ethiopia, Somalia, the USA, Kenya, the United Arab Emirates, Angola, the European Union, Zimbabwe and Saudi Arabia joined their voices in support of these decisions, with some of them reiterating the need for funding to support their implementation.

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Contact:

Laurie Marker – director@cheetah.org, cheetah@iway.na, (+1- 571- 2752426, 

Whatsapp: +264- 81-1247887)

Patricia Tricorache – patricia@cheetah.org, Whatsapp: +1-305-766-8229

About the Cheetah Conservation Fund

Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) is the global leader in research and conservation of cheetahs. With field headquarters in Namibia – ‘The Cheetah Capital of the World’ — CCF is dedicated to saving the remaining strongholds of cheetah populations in the wild. CCF believes that understanding the cheetah’s biology, ecology and interactions with people is essential. CCF’s strategy is a three-pronged approach integrating research, conservation and education, beginning with long-term studies to understand and monitor the factors affecting cheetah survival. Results are used to develop conservation policies and programmes, many of which include helping human populations that live alongside cheetahs. CCF works with local, national and international communities to raise awareness, communicate and educate people about the species. CCF also provides training in a number of fields to help develop livelihoods for rural Namibians.

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By: CCF Staff

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