Rich People’s Pet Cheetahs Put Wild Cheetahs at Risk
As more cheetahs are smuggled out of Africa into the Persian Gulf states, a global wildlife summit tackles the exotic pet trade.
Johannesburg, South AfricaCheetahs: The world’s fastest land animal and the Middle East’s hottest pet. On Instagram you’ll find hundreds of photos of rich, young Arabs posing with their cheetahs at home, in front of sports cars, even on boats.
Cheetahs as pets isn’t a new phenomenon. Egyptians and Persian royalty often kept the big cats. But now it’s different. Cheetahs have lost more than 90 percent of their range during the past century alone, and only about 7,000 are left in the wild (roughly 50 of those are Asian cheetahs, which live in Iran). Habitat loss and fragmentation has pushed them nearer to extinction, but the growing pet cheetah trade is also a formidable foe.
Booming wealth in the Gulf states—combined with