How a $100 Cheetah Cub Becomes an Illegal $50,000 Status Symbol
Minh-Anh Nguyen -- Bloomberg

Cheetahs in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.Photographer: Vaganundo_Che/Shutterstock

Inside the cheetah black market, from poachers to messaging apps.

For different reasons and in different black markets, the value of animals and animal parts varies. In the Arabian Peninsula, the cheetah is particularly prized.

The data represented below was gathered through efforts spearheaded by independent wildlife trafficking researcher Patricia Tricorache. Her teams studied government sources, news reports, e-commerce sites and social media platforms to identify almost 2,200 instances of cheetahs being illegally trafficked or in the possession of private owners from 2010 to 2021. In total these incidents involved more than 5,600 animals.

According to Tricorache, cheetah trafficking spiked during the pandemic—incidents in 2021 were up 150% from pre-pandemic levels. This is in part the result of Covid-related air travel restrictions, which sparked interest among dealers in animals that could be transported by boat out of the Horn of Africa region. At the same time, demand for cheetahs surged in the United Arab Emirates.

Country of Incident

These are the nations where a trafficked cheetah was detected. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa are near the beginning of the supply chain. Almost all illegally traded cheetahs are bound for the Arabian Peninsula.

What Was Offered

The vast majority of incidents involve live animals. There’s also a trade in skins, teeth, skulls and other parts.

Number of Cheetahs Involved per Incident

Mostly they’re moved alone or in pairs, though in 2015 a Yemeni dealer offered 56 cheetah cubs for sale.



This describes the places and websites where the trafficking was detected. Sales are most commonly arranged on social media, and increasingly on messaging apps in particular. Since 2021 at least 170 offers have been identified on WhatsApp.

Prices are dependent on the tameness and health of a cheetah. By 2022 consumer prices had reached as high as $50,000.


Original article: