On 3 March 2019, two suspects were arrested by members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) K9 Unit for being in possession of two cheetahs illegally, one dead and one alive. It is alleged that the cheetahs were hunted by the suspects, using dogs and horses. The live cheetah was in poor condition and was removed and taken to a renowned wildlife veterinarian for treatment and rehabilitation.
The NSPCA Wildlife Protection Unit is currently assisting the SAPS with cruelty charges against the accused in terms of the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962.
“We are appalled by the senseless actions of these men, cheetahs are incredible animals that are at risk of extinction. We are relieved that the live cheetah is on the road to recovery, however, it should never have been compromised in the first place. Our wildlife belongs in the wild, left to live their lives out in the way nature intended – peacefully,” said senior inspector Douglas Wolhuter, manager of the NSPCAs Wildlife Protection Unit.
The NSPCA is aware of the ongoing illegal capture of animals such as these cheetah from the wild. To treat these animals so cruelly impacts not only the image of our country and its dedication to environmental protection, but without the necessary repercussions, impacts its ability to enforce the law and deter these criminal activities.
Cheetahs are listed as a CITES appendix I species, meaning it is threatened with extinction. Wildlife trade in this species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances. Cheetah are listed as a Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS). Their indiscriminate capture from the wild leading to the death of one cheetah only further depletes their numbers, and if North West Nature Conservation authorities (NWDEA) had not intervened, the remaining cheetah would’ve been condemned to a life in captivity or slaughtered for its body parts.
The NSPCA commends the North West Department of Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development (NWDEA) for their actions as well as the SAPS for requesting assistance with charges in terms of the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962, and to the North West Department for ensuring joint charges in this case. Cruelty to animals is a criminal offense.
Media statement: NSPCA