Cheetah protection group is ‘happy that Namibia’s incredible natural wealth will be shared with the Cuban people’ / Photo: BigStock

By Katerina Lorenzatos Makris

Namibia, already the target of heated criticism for the annual slaughter of desert seals on its Atlantic Coast (Cpt. Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd calls it “the world’s largest and cruelest marine mammal slaughter”), has drawn more outrage from animal advocates for a program now in progress to capture some 150 native wild animals and send them across the world to the Cuban national zoo.

However one animal protection group operating in Namibia, Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), supports the Namibian-Cuban “Noah’s Ark II” project, as it’s known.

CCF assistant director of international programs Patricia Tricorache recently explained the group’s views in the following email interview with Animal Issues Reporter (AIR).

Interview with Patricia Tricorache, Cheetah Conservation Fund

Animal Issues Reporter (AIR): What is CCF’s policy or opinion regarding the capture of wild animals for use in zoos?

Patricia Tricorache: CCF works to conserve the wild cheetah in the wild. However, as far as we know, it is not definite that all the animals in the Noah’s Ark II project will be caught from the wild. We are recommending that the governments take cheetahs that live in captivity already so as not to take them from the wild.

AIR: What value, if any, do you see in this project?

Tricorache: From a conservation education perspective, we believe that zoos play a very important role in educating people about the importance of wildlife for the health of ecosystems. We are certain that the National Zoological Park of Cuba is no exception and are happy that Namibia’s incredible natural wealth will be shared with the Cuban people.

AIR: How do wild cheetahs normally fare during capture and transport of this type?

Tricorache: Cheetahs transport with ease and the entire process will be done with the utmost care and professionalism to protect the animals from unnecessary stress. Both the Namibian and Cuban veterinary teams are extremely professional and experienced.

AIR:  Is CCF involved in overseeing the capture of cheetahs in the Noah’s Ark II project?  For example monitoring their health or safety?  Or perhaps providing advice?

Tricorache: No—not unless we are asked—but the Namibian veterinary team have all the needed skills.

AIR: What are your thoughts about the mental/emotional health of wild animals in general—and wild cheetahs in particular—being captured, transported to an unfamiliar place, then living in captivity?

Tricorache: They will be OK. See earlier answer.

AIR: To some observers it might seem especially cruel to remove cheetahs from the wild, given their extraordinary, trademark speed and grace while running and hunting, a behavior they might not be able to fully express in captivity.

Tricorache: See earlier answer. We have recommended that they take cheetahs that are already in captivity.

AIR: Do you know if the transport of the animals in this project has begun or has been completed yet?

Tricorache: While the capture of some animals has already started, the capture of cheetahs has not been done to this date.

AIR’s numerous emails and telephone calls requesting comment from the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism have not yet been answered.

Also on this topic:

‘The capture has started’: Namibia traps wildlife for export to Cuba

Drugs and high stress could kill wildlife being captured and exported by Namibia, says NSPCA

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Katerina Lorenzatos Makris is a career journalist, author, and editor. Credits include hundreds of articles for regional wire services and for  outlets such as National Geographic Traveler, The San Francisco Chronicle, Travelers’ Tales, NBC’s, and (Animal Policy Examiner), a teleplay for CBS-TV, a short story for The Bark magazine, and 17 novels for Avon, E.P. Dutton, Simon and Schuster, and other major publishers.

Together with coauthor Shelley Frost, Katerina wrote a step-by-step guide for hands-on, in-the-trenches dog rescue, Your Adopted Dog: Everything You Need to Know About Rescuing and Caring for a Best Friend in Need (The Lyons Press).

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