This impoverished region is a hub for the cheetah trade. Now it's fighting back.
Resource-poor Somaliland is taking the initiative to end the trafficking of cheetah cubs from the Horn of Africa to Gulf states.
A landmark legal ruling occurred in a courtroom in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, in September, when two men were handed prison sentences of three years for trying to smuggle six cheetah cubs out of this breakaway state not recognized by the UN. Though largely unreported in the West, it was the first conviction for cheetah smuggling in the region.
“There are only a handful of cheetahs left in Ethiopia, and probably no more than 300 in the Horn of Africa,” says Sarah Durant, a senior fellow at the London Zoological Society. “So this conviction is a major development. It will create a deterrent and hit the trade. But,” she adds, “the fact that so many cheetahs are still trafficked