Headlines:Online Trade in Live Cheetahs Exposed by TRAFFIC Report

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Online Trade in Live Cheetahs Exposed by TRAFFIC Report

Online Trade in Live Cheetahs Exposed by TRAFFIC Report
Online Trade in Live Cheetahs Exposed by TRAFFIC Report

March 4, 2024 – A new report by TRAFFIC, a non-governmental organisation working on wildlife trade issues, reveals the extent and impact of the online trade in live cheetahs which are classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. The report is based on a six-month survey that found evidence of online trade in live cheetahs or display of live cheetahs as pets, using various platforms and languages.

According to the report, the online trade in live cheetahs poses a serious threat to the conservation of the species, which has an estimated 6,500 mature individuals remaining in the wild. Cheetahs face threats such as habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict, and exploitation of wild individuals through trade could have a detrimental effect on the viability of the global population.

According to the findings, in a span of six months, 222 unique URLs were discovered, highlighting concerning patterns in the online trade of live cheetahs. Nearly half of these URLs indicated an explicit interest in trading live cheetahs, with 70% being found on social media platforms. 26% of the links were identified on e-commerce platforms and dedicated websites, while others were located in online forums or news articles. Traders are actively attempting to maintain anonymity by employing multiple user profiles, enhancing privacy settings, and avoiding overtly transactional language. Some individuals have altered their online profiles' security and privacy settings to evade detection, while others refrain from using sales language, opting instead to post images of cheetahs for sale.

The report highlights the trade patterns of live cheetahs, revealing South Africa, China, and the United States as major importers primarily for zoos. Meanwhile, South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe are key exporters, with both captive-bred and wild-sourced cheetahs. Discrepancies between TRAFFIC research and CITES Trade data indicate potential illegal imports or unregulated captive breeding in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, posing serious threats to cheetah populations.

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