A charity organization for wildlife conservation says about 300 young cheetahs are trafficked from Somaliland, East Africa, every year.
Laurie Marker, a conservation biologist and founder of CCF, told CNN, “If you do the math, the calculation shows that it will only be a few years before we have cheetahs.”
Many smugglers are passing the little ones to the Somaliland border as the main transit route for cheetah trafficking in the Horn of Africa.
The animals are then stored in narrow crates or cartons on boats and sent across the Gulf of Aden to the Arabian Peninsula.
According to the organization, there are fewer than 7,500 cheetahs left in the wild and another 1,000 are kept in captivity in private hands in the Gulf countries.
Many animals are bought and sold through illegal online sales via Youtube and Instagram.
Over 90% of sales came from the Gulf countries, 60% of which came from Saudi Arabia.
The animals are sold from the age of two or three months up to £ 10,000.
Most of the cubs are in the hands of wealthy Arabs, living in Arab Gulf mansions, where they are billed as status symbols and parade in social media posts.
A LIFE OF CONFINEMENT
However, life in custody can be life-threatening and the journey to lead can be fatal.
Many contraband babies arrive in the Gulf with mutilated and broken legs and Marker estimates that three out of four people die during the trip.