Even though the cheetah can run up to 110 kilometres per hour, the world’s fastest land mammal cannot outrun the fact that it faces extinction, treading one paw at a time towards its final destination.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) commissioned a first ever report on the illegal trade of cheetahs, providing well-established data on illegal trafficking cases that were compiled by Dr Laurie Marker’s Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF).
“We are ecstatic that the illegal pet trade in cheetahs is being addressed by one of the most important instruments for wildlife conservation, CITES, as it is of a great concern to the survival of the species and it will continue as long as people view them as a desirable ‘exotic’ pet,” Marker, one of the world’s leading big cat experts, and a global authority on the cheetah explained.
Marker elaborated that for every cheetah that is held captive illegally, five more will die as a result. These cheetahs are often sick with contagious diseases and starved, intensifying threats to the species’ survival.
“Over the past 100 years, we have witnessed the world’s wild cheetah population diminish by 90%, dropping from 100 000 to 10 000 presently.
We are in danger of erasing this species from the planet, and many others as well if we do not act now by changing our behaviour with regard to our natural resource consumption,” Marker said.
Marker pioneered a species conservation programme, administered through the CCF, and significant improvements have elevated Namibia’s position as statistics show that the decline in cheetah species have stabilised.
“Nothing in this world can equalise to the cheetah’s speed and agility. It would be a tragedy if we were to lose it, but we only have a short time to do something about it before it is too late,” Marker said.