May 3, 2012
A Board Meeting Trip Proves Far From Routine
It was intended to be a simple trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to attend the meeting of the Board of Directors of Born Free Foundation Ethiopia (BFFE), of which I am a proud member, and to see our wildlife sanctuary there. It turned into a rescue mission.
On April 23, a white Land Rover drove up to the gates of Ensessakotteh, one of our Global Field Projects. In the back, in a handmade wooden crate with a partition inside, rode four cheetah cubs from neighboring Somaliland.
Cheetah cubs from Ethiopia and other countries in the region are taken to the Middle East, where they are kept as pets. Smuggling is rife and a cheetah could fetch $5,000 for the wildlife peddler, ultimately selling for four to five times that amount at the destination point.
For four months these cheetahs were cared for by a nongovernmental organization worker in Somaliland. Guenther had a choice: return them to dangerous wildlife dealers, send them to a zoo in Djibouti, or place them with us. Monday morning he was delivering them to Born Free after a 12-hour journey through the night that began with armed soldiers trying to prevent their departure. This mission was both courageous and compassionate.
These cubs join half a dozen other cheetah rescues residing at the sanctuary. Other animals there include Dolo, a male lion who was chained 24 hours a day around his neck, malnourished and so sickly that he had no mane. Having seen the original pictures of Dolo I can honestly say that seeing him now — stronger, full mane, active — was inspiring. And hearing his roar at dinner time was one of the most stirring sounds I've heard in a long time!
Lions freed from chains, cheetah cubs saved from wildlife dealers — we have our work cut out for us in Ethiopia just as we do in North America. With Born Free on the ground in country, wild animals really do stand a fighting chance.
For the animals,
P.S. We are committed to ensuring that Born Free Foundation Ethiopia is fully equipped to save all animals in need. Please consider making a donation to support our work in the country.
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