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Aspinall Foundation steps in to help nurse critically ill cheetah back to health

By Joe Wright

A traumatised cheetah cub destined for a life of misery is being nursed back to health by a conservation charity.

The young cub - saved from the clutches of illegal pet traders in Somaliland - was on the brink of death before The Aspinall Foundation - with runs Howletts and Port Lympne animal parks in Kent - stepped in to help.

Thoughtless smugglers had attempted to ferry three of the endangered cats out of Africa and then sell them off to buyers in the United Arab Emirates.

But thankfully, their plan was thwarted by police and the weeks' old cubs were confiscated by the country's authorities.

Unfortunately, two of the malnourished and dehydrated youngsters did not survive the ordeal, while the third was left in a critical condition.

After being alerted of the scenario, The Aspinall Foundation's head of veterinary services, Jane Hopper, and animal director Adrian Harland flew out to a temporary holding centre to help with the feeble cheetah's treatment.

Given intensive fluid therapy and medication, the female cub is now responding well and growing in strength.

Mr Harland, who remains cautious, said: "The last remaining cub is a real fighter, but we’re not out of the woods yet. She’s still very fragile but every day brings new hope.

"Another day alive, is another day she’s growing in strength."

The tiny cubs would have been sold as pets (4757717)
The tiny cubs would have been sold as pets (4757717)

Due to poaching, pet trading and habitat loss, there are thought to be less than 7,000 cheetahs left in the wild.

As a result, the world's fastest land animal is categorised as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.

Damian Aspinall, chairman of the Aspinall Foundation, said: "As the 2018 conference on the illegal wildlife trade begins in London, it is imperative that we all work together to end wildlife crime.

"Hundreds of cheetahs are smuggled through the horn of Africa every year – most of them will die before they ever reach their intended destination.

"We can no longer sit by and let this happen, we need to act now. It is unacceptable that in the 21st century, we are still treating wild animals as objects for our own amusement."

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