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Cheetahs in Chains: From Africa to Arabia

October 14, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

Cheetahs can run a staggering 75 mph, but that’s not fast enough to escape their captors. Each year, animal traffickers in Africa kidnap an estimated 100 cheetahs to supply the exotic pet trade in the Middle East, where big cats are status symbols.

Kuwait City

Kuwait City (photo:

Doha, Qatar

Doha, Qatar

Most captive cheetahs were stolen from their mothers as cubs, who are easier to handle. This cheetah, being kept as a pet in Tanzania, was rescued by government authorities.

Captured cheetah by African border control

Captive cheetah in Tanzania rescued by authorities (photo: Rosa Mosha)

Cheetahs are an endangered species; fewer than 10,000 remain in Africa — down from 100,000 in 1900. Kidnapping isn’t the only culprit. Their numbers are also declining due to habitat destruction, the construction of fences that block hunting routes and a diminishing number of prey.

Historic & current cheetah range

Historic & current cheetah range

Capturing wild cheetahs isn’t just bad for conservation; it’s also bad for the cheetahs, who suffer in captivity. No palace in the Middle East can replicate their natural habitat, where they live amongst members of their own species, hunt, raise their young and run faster than the speed limit:

As part of its “Global Campaign to Keep Cheetahs off Chains,” Born Free USA, which estimates that 70% of smuggled cheetahs die in transit, is calling on members of the CITES treaty to increase enforcement at borders and strengthen the laws. CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Your Turn

To learn more about the plight of exotic animals held captive as pets and to find out how you can help, please visit Born Free USA.

Filed under: Companion Animals, WIldlife
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