Gulf Arabs’ demand for cheetahs as pets ‘fuels their extinction’
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Gulf Arabs’ demand for cheetahs as pets ‘fuels their extinction’

Meanwhile, Iran continues to hold in prison eight researchers of rare Asiatic cheetah on charges of using cameras to spy for Israel, US

Illustrative: In this May 25, 2014 photo, a seven-year-old male Asiatic Cheetah called 'Koushki,' crouches at the Miandasht Wildlife Refuge in Jajarm, northeastern Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Illustrative: In this May 25, 2014 photo, a seven-year-old male Asiatic Cheetah called 'Koushki,' crouches at the Miandasht Wildlife Refuge in Jajarm, northeastern Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

The world’s cheetahs face extinction not only because of hunting, wars and habitat decline, but also thanks to the continuing demand by wealthy Gulf Arabs for pet cheetah cubs and the willingness of the poor to supply them, a CNN probe found.

Only 7,500 cheetahs remain in the wild — down half over the past ten years, according to the Cheetah Conservation Fund. Around 300 of these are adult cheetahs in unprotected areas of the Horn of Africa. An additional 1,000 animals are privately held in countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, where they are shown off, and traded illegally, online.

In addition to that, up to 300 cheetah cubs are smuggled annually from the Horn of Africa across the porous borders of Somaliland and are then sent across the Gulf of Aden — squeezed into crates or cardboard boxes — to the Arabian peninsula.

Laurie Marker, an American conservation biologist and founder of CCF, told CNN that three in four cheetahs die during the trip, while those that survive often arrive with broken legs. Most cheetahs held captive in private homes die within a year or two, partly because they are fed inappropriate food.

A social media post showing a Gulf Arab with his pet cheetah. (Youtube/CNN screenshot)

The cost of a cub in the Gulf can exceed $10,000.

“People who have a cheetah as a pet are causing the species to go extinct,” Marker said.

The ultra-rich are illegally buying cheetahs as pets and it's leading to their extinction

The ultra-rich are illegally buying cheetahs as pets and it's leading to their extinction. There are less than 7,500 of the animals left in the wild around the world — half the number from a decade ago. https://cnn.it/2znNse5

פורסם על ידי ‏‎CNN‎‏ ב- יום רביעי, 28 באוגוסט 2019

CNN found social media posts showing cheetahs laying on luxury cars, being shoved into pools, getting force-fed ice cream and lollipops, and being taunted by a group of men. One cheetah was seen getting declawed; another was dying on camera.

Trading cheetahs is prohibited under Appendix 1 of the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES).

But while the UAE’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment denied there were cheetahs in the country’s private houses and the Saudi government failed to respond to requests for comment, Gulf vets confirmed that the trade is very much alive.

Iranian researchers arrested for spying for Israel, US

Meanwhile, Iranian authorities last year arrested nine members of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, who were researching the rare Asiatic cheetah, on charges of using camera traps to spy for Israel and the US. One of them has since died in prison.

According to the Washington Post, four of those under arrest have been charged with “spreading corruption on earth” and could face the death penalty, with the four others facing jail sentences of up to 10 years.

More than 350 scientists from around the world have petitioned Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, against the arrests.

It has been suggested that the Iranians took a dislike to the involvement of a New York-based conservation group, Panthera, which helps to preserve the big cats and their ecosystems. Panthera is funded by Jewish hedge-fund billionaire Thomas Kaplan, who has publicly expressed anti-Iranian views and helped to fund a group that lobbied the Trump administration to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

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