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Wild Africa partners with Cheetah Conservation Fund to launch a major awareness campaign in Somaliland

A reception was hosted by CCF in Somaliland to introduce the media to their new conservation media partner, Wild Africa. This event marks the beginning of an impactful awareness program, developed in collaboration with the Somaliland Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MoECC), the Somaliland Ministry of Information, Culture and National Guidance, CCF, and Wild Africa, aimed at combating the illegal wildlife pet trade in cheetahs from the Horn of Africa.

Held at the Ambassador Hotel in Hargeisa, the event brought together key figures from the Somaliland media, social media influencers, and notable dignitaries to discuss the pressing issue of wildlife trafficking. The audience included Minister Shukri from MoECC, the Faysal Abdirashid Adan, Sucaad Omar, and Abdirahman Abdilahi of the Ministry of Information, Culture and National Guidance, the Taiwanese Ambassador to Somaliland, Allen Lou Chenhwa, Captain Zuhur Fathi Mukhtar from the Somaliland Coast Guard, and numerous media representatives and influencers.

Somaliland social media influencers are partnering with Wild Africa and Cheetah Conservation Fund to raise awareness about cheetah conservation

Dr. Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of CCF, introduced Peter Knights, CEO of Wild Africa, to the assembled guests. The discussion highlighted the innovative media strategies employed by Wild Africa to reduce the poaching of African elephants and rhinos, which will now be extended to address the trafficking of cheetahs in the Horn of Africa. 

Somaliland’s MoECC and police forces, supported by CCF, have been actively working to curb this illicit trade. CCF is currently caring for 97 cheetahs rescued from the illegal wildlife pet trade at its Cheetah Rescue and Conservation Centre (CRCC) in Geed-deeble. 

This new awareness program, funded by a grant from the European Union (EU) and Welthungerhilfe (WHH), aims to educate the public about the critical issue of wildlife trafficking, with a specific focus on the cheetahs of the Horn of Africa – a population from which 200+ cheetahs have been reported to be trafficked into the Middle East annually, out of a regional population of about 400 individuals in the Horn of Africa. The world population of cheetah is less than 7,000 individuals and this regional subspecies (Acinonyx jubatus soemmerringi) has recently been uplisted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to Endangered, leaving it vulnerable to local extinction. 

Stopping illegal cheetah trafficking in the Horn of Africa requires a collaborative effort and innovative strategies

The event included interviews with key government officials and influential social media personalities, including YouTuber Qays Qayser, Dhakhtar, and photographer Anas Ahmed Hamud, who pledged to use their platforms to advocate for the conservation of wildlife in Somaliland. The next day, several of the influencers filmed at the CCF’s Rescue Centre near Geed-deeble to spread awareness of the plight of the cheetah and how Somalilanders can take the lead in helping stop illegal wildlife trafficking. Slogans being used in the campaign include “protecting nature protects us all” (“Ilaalinta dabiicaddu waa ilaalinta nafaheena”) and “keep wildlife wild” (“u daa duurjoogta duurkooda”).

Following the event, an MOU was signed between the Somaliland Ministry of Information, Culture and National Guidance, and Wild Africa to work together for the next year in bringing awareness of the illegal wildlife trade in cheetah and protection of the wildlife in Somaliland. 

With the campaign launch scheduled for later in 2024, Somaliland media outlets and influencers stand ready to collaborate and amplify the message. Content developed by Wild Africa will be offered free-to-use to the country’s media, bringing awareness to the plight of species, like the cheetah, threatened with extinction because of illegal actions. The initiative underscores a significant step towards protecting Somaliland’s wildlife and raising global awareness about the devastating impacts of illegal wildlife trade.

This agreement highlights a very important step in the fight against wildlife trafficking in Somaliland