Captive cheetah breeding is reaching epidemic proportions in SA

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Lisbeth
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Captive cheetah breeding is reaching epidemic proportions in SA

Post by Lisbeth » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:30 am

2018-04-13 09:30 - Louise de Waal

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Cape Town - An extremely worrying trend is emerging in South Africa, where cheetahs are bred on demand, taken away from their mothers to be hand-reared for cub petting, to become well-behaved ambassador species, or to be exported for either “zoological” reasons or into the pet trade.

With the number of cheetahs in captivity soaring to more than 600 kept in about 80 different facilities, concerns have been raised that this industry is showing alarming similarities of the lion breeding industry, with its links to canned hunting and legal lion bone trade.

Since 1975, half of the world’s wild cheetah population has been lost and the species is now confined to just 9% of its historical distributional range. The IUCN status for cheetah is Vulnerable, although the scientific community is calling for a reclassification to Endangered.

South Africa has the third largest wild cheetah population worldwide with an estimated free roaming and managed metapopulation of between 1 200 - 1 700 animals. These animals live either in national parks and other protected areas or on commercial farmland, where most of the human-wildlife conflict occurs.

The captive breeding generally happens under the guise of cheetah conservation. The message conveyed is one of reintroduction back into the wild or preservation of genetic material.

However, the true value of captive breeding is still very much in dispute. Dr Paul Funston (Senior Director of Panthera’s Lion and Cheetah Programmes) categorically states, “Captive breeding of cheetahs is not conservation, never has been and never will be!"

Here are some of the reasons why.

Reintroduction issues

The reintroduction of cheetah into the wild is a long and expensive process with very low success rates, as was again shown in a reintroduction attempt of captive bred cheetahs in Makulu Makete Wildlife Reserve, Limpopo.

It is even suggested that after a number years in captivity, a species may even loose its unique biological and behavioural characteristics; therefore, making the conservation efforts of captive breeding far less worthy.

Captive breeding issues

Cheetahs in captivity are extremely sensitive to stress and often display abnormal behaviour, such as pacing back and forth out of frustration, because their hunting and ranging instincts are denied.

The high prevalence of disease in captive populations is now thought to be caused by chronic stress suffered by cheetah in captive conditions, as well as an unnatural diet. The lack of high-energy fat in their diet may even cause depression.

The wild cheetah population suffers from low genetic diversity, because they only just survived the megafauna extinction during the Pleistocene. As a consequence, the wild population has low sperm counts, increased susceptibility to disease, and skeletal abnormalities. This low genetic diversity of the wild population easily leads to inbreeding in captivity.

Captive breeding can even pose a potential threat to the survival of the wild population, as wild cheetahs are captured for their purer genes, to prevent inbreeding issues.

Potential for canned hunting

There is a real potential for canned hunting of captive bred cheetahs and the already large and growing captive population could easily provide a supply for this internationally condemned practice.

The Threatened or Protected Species Regulations (TOPS) currently do not allow canned hunting of large predators with the exception of lions. However, Linda Park (Director of Campaign against Canned Hunting) says “whilst the term canned hunting is generally thought to refer to lions, we know from information received that all the big cats are at risk”.

“The situation with cheetahs is extremely concerning as their numbers in captivity have increased steadily. While they do not breed as prolifically as lions, one has to ask where do all the cubs go to?”, Park continues.

Why has South Africa such a large captive bred cheetah population?
When we examine the legal trading of cheetahs between breeding farms and tourism facilities, we start to understand this growing trend of prolific captive breeding in South Africa.

South Africa has a significant number of so-called ambassador cheetahs. The vast majority is bred in captivity and hand-reared specifically to be groomed as well-behaved ambassadors and not rescued from the wild and unable to be returned back, as is often believed.

Even more disturbing is the emerging trend of cheetah cub petting, where cubs are bred on demand, taken away from their mother and hand-reared, specifically to fulfil the cuteness factor in captive wildlife facilities. These cubs are used as photo props often for as long as 6 hours a day.

Many captive wildlife facilities claim that cubs (and adult cheetahs for that matter) fulfil an educational role. However, the Endangered Wildlife Trust states that “the educational value of these facilities is questionable... at best they offer ‘edutainement’ with no real measurable change in behaviour that promotes conservation”.

Once the cubs outgrow the petting facility, they are often returned to the breeding farm to be used for further breeding, become full-blown ambassadors, are sold to zoos worldwide, or traded to the Middle East, where many are kept as pets as a status symbol.

South Africa is already the largest exporter of live cheetahs. However, the excessive captive breeding is not the answer to the plight of cheetahs in the wild.

“In the vast majority of cases captive breeding of cheetahs, and other large carnivores, is purely for financial gain. It gains pseudo credibility, and possibly therefore government sanction, being claimed to be for conservation, when that is all a rather distasteful lie and financial gain is what its really for. It’s not conservation and should not be claimed as such”, says Dr Funston.

(Supplied by Conservation Action Trust)

http://www.traveller24.com/Explore/Gree ... a-20180413
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Captive cheetahs being exploited

Post by Lisbeth » Thu Apr 26, 2018 11:50 am

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Photo: Marthinus Koekemoer

BY DR LOUISE DE WAAL - 1 APRIL 2018 - SUNDAY TRIBUNE

The practice of breeding the animals in captivity as ‘ambassadors’ is doing the species more harm than good, Louise de Waal reports

A WORRYING trend is emerging in South Africa where cheetahs are bred on demand, taken away from their mothers to be hand-reared for cub petting, to become ambassador species or to be exported for either “zoological” reasons or into the pet trade.

With the number of cheetahs in captivity soaring to more than 600 kept in about 80 different facilities, concerns have been raised that this industry is showing similarities to that of the lion breeding industry, with its links to canned hunting and legal lion bone trade.

Since 1975, half of the world’s wild cheetah population has been lost and the species is now confined to just 9% of its historical distributional range.

The IUCN status for cheetah is vulnerable, although the scientific community is calling for a reclassification to endangered.

South Africa has the third largest wild cheetah population worldwide with an estimated free roaming and managed metapopulation of between 1 200 and 1 700 animals.

These animals live either in national parks and other protected areas or on commercial farmland, where most of the human-wildlife conflict occurs.

The captive breeding generally happens under the guise of cheetah conservation. The message conveyed is one of reintroduction into the wild or preservation of genetic material.

However, the true value of captive breeding is still very much in dispute. Dr Paul Funston, senior director of Panthera’s Lion and Cheetah Programmes, said: “Captive breeding of cheetahs is not conservation, never has been and never will be.”

The reintroduction of cheetahs to the wild is a long and expensive process with very low success rates. It is suggested that after a number years in captivity, a species may lose its unique biological and behavioural characteristics, making the conservation efforts of captive breeding far less worthy.

Cheetahs in captivity are extremely sensitive to stress and often display abnormal behaviour because their hunting and ranging instincts are denied.

The high prevalence of disease in captive populations is now thought to be caused by chronic stress and an unnatural diet that may even cause depression.

The wild cheetah population suffers from low genetic diversity, that easily leads to inbreeding in captivity.

Captive breeding can even pose a potential threat to the survival of the wild population, as wild cheetahs are captured for their purer genes, to prevent inbreeding issues.

There is a real potential for canned hunting of captive bred cheetahs and the already large and growing captive population could easily provide a supply for this internationally condemned practice. The Threatened or Protected Species Regulations do not allow canned hunting of large predators with the exception of lions.

Linda Park, director of the Campaign against Canned Hunting, said: “The situation with cheetahs is extremely concerning as their numbers in captivity have increased steadily. While they do not breed as prolifically as lions, one has to ask: where do all the cubs go to?

“When we examine the legal trading of cheetahs between breeding farms and tourism facilities, we start to understand this growing trend of prolific captive breeding in South Africa.”

South Africa has a significant number of “ambassador cheetahs”. The majority are bred in captivity and hand-reared to be groomed as well-behaved ambassadors.

Even more disturbing is the emerging trend of cheetah cub petting, where cubs are bred on demand and hand-reared to fulfil the cuteness factor in captive wildlife facilities.

These cubs are used as photo props often for as long as six hours a day.

Many captive wildlife facilities claim cubs and adults fulfil an educational role.

However, the Endangered Wildlife Trust said such facilities at best offer “edutainment with no real measurable change in behaviour that promotes conservation”.

Once the cubs outgrow the petting facility, they are often returned to the breeding farm to be used for further breeding, become ambassadors, are sold to zoos worldwide or traded to the Middle East as pets.

South Africa is the largest exporter of live cheetahs. However, the excessive captive breeding is not the answer to the plight of cheetahs in the wild.

“In the majority of cases captive breeding of cheetahs and other large carnivores, is purely for financial gain,”said Funston.

Read original article: https://www.pressreader.com/similar/282110637164990

Source: https://conservationaction.co.za/media- ... exploited/
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Re: Captive cheetahs being exploited

Post by nan » Thu Apr 26, 2018 12:12 pm

South Africa is the largest exporter of live cheetahs. However, the excessive captive breeding is not the answer to the plight of cheetahs in the wild.
“In the majority of cases captive breeding of cheetahs and other large carnivores, is purely for financial gain,”said Funston.
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Re: Captive cheetahs being exploited

Post by Mel » Thu Apr 26, 2018 9:16 pm

I don't get how South Africa can trade in vulnerable or endangered species
(or their bones) and ask for help in their counter poaching initiatives at the same time...
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Re: Captive cheetahs being exploited

Post by Lisbeth » Fri Apr 27, 2018 10:43 am

Maybe they think that the rest of the world is stupid -O- :evil:
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ShockWildlifeTruths: Cheetah cub petting offered under the guise of conservation

Post by Lisbeth » Fri Jul 27, 2018 10:41 am

2018-07-26 11:30 - Louise de Waal

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At least 600 cheetahs are kept in captivity in South African tourism facilities, offering interactions and cub petting in the name of conservation and education. Do these facilities truly promote the survival of free-ranging cheetahs or is this just an easy revenue stream?

One or two of the about 80 captive cheetah facilities make genuine efforts to conserve the wild cheetah population by attempting reintroduction programmes. Others support breeding programmes of Anatolian shepherd dogs, that are used to address human-wildlife conflict with predators like cheetah and leopard.

Cheetah Outreach in Somerset West fits in the latter category and have been supporting Anatolian shepherd dog projects for many years. As such, they have gained respect within the tourism industry. It was therefore even more shocking to find not only 12 adult cheetahs, but also two five months old cheetah cubs, and several serval, caracal, black-backed jackal, bat-eared foxes and meerkats at their facility on a recent visit.

Most of these ambassador species are available for petting and of course for the compulsory photo opportunity. Some of the adult cheetahs can even be hired for special off-site functions, such as corporate events, fashion shoots, and even weddings. Cheetah Outreach are certainly not alone in such a wide hands-on animal interaction offering.

The little-known reality is that only a few of Cheetah Outreach’s animals are actually rescued, most are bred in captivity and hand-reared specifically to become ambassador species.

According to the facility, these ambassador animals perform an important “educational” role by raising awareness of the plight of the wild cheetah and to raise funds for Anatolian shepherd dog breeding projects. However, does the end justify the means?

The cheetah cubs in their petting enclosure are not rescued orphans, as is often believed. They are bred on demand at a breeding facility in South Africa, removed from their mothers prematurely, and bottle fed to habituate them for cub petting.

When cubs are available at the centre, daily interaction of up to six hours a day is on offer at a cost of R250 per person. This can generate an estimated R45 000 of revenue per day in peak season. Simultaneously, adult cheetahs on leashes also earn their keep, providing further income through selfie opportunities.

The conservation value of any of these habituated cheetahs is highly questionable. Dr Paul Funston, senior director of Panthera’s Lion and Cheetah Programmes, says, “Captive breeding of cheetahs is not conservation, never has been and never will be!"

In the current South African context, captive breeding without successful reintroduction is preservation at best, but never conservation.

In the wider captive cheetah industry, like with lions, cubs outgrow the petting enclosure when they are about nine months old. At this point they are either promoted to become fully-fledged ambassadors and stay at the facility, returned to the breeding farm for further breeding, exported under CITES Appendix II for “zoological” reasons, or are sold as pets to the Middle East.

There is an additional, rarely mentioned issue, namely the potential danger of interacting with adult predators. In a recent analysis by the Endangered Wildlife Trust, it was found that 38% of all known incidents involving carnivores were attacks by captive cheetahs. This was the second highest attack rate after captive lions.

The global move away from captive breeding and hands-on wildlife interactions is gaining traction in South Africa with tourism organisations, such as South African Tourism and SATSA, taking a firm stance against such practices.

Against this background and the widely-accepted position that animals are sentient beings, can we condone the use of ambassador species for human entertainment and to raise funds for a legitimate cause?

Annie Beckhelling, founder of Cheetah Outreach, says a Masters’ study carried out at their facility found “there was no altered behaviour during encounters, purring increased and there was a tendency to reduce heart rate with increasing people contact”. They therefore conclude that human interactions are beneficial for the animals.

Besides all this, there are some vital questions that need to be answered to hold all captive wildlife facilities accountable (unfortunately Cheetah Outreach never responded to these questions).

- How can we justify a self-perpetuating captive breeding industry that breeds cheetahs on demand and takes them away from their mothers prematurely, with no attempts to reintroduce them into the wild? This practice guarantees a steady supply of cubs for the petting industry, but at what cost and where is the conservation value?
- Is there a genuine need to physically interact with cubs and adult cheetahs to achieve the much-needed awareness of the conservation plight of the species?
- Could we be equally (or more) successful in educating the public, if we allow the ambassadors to behave more naturally at a distance, while well-informed guides provide the necessary information? It is even questionable whether people absorb information about the ecology and conservation of wild cheetahs during the excitement of having a selfie taken with an adult or baby cheetah.
- Are we not essentially confusing education with entertainment?
Should we not be more honest in describing the role of such animals and admit they are pure photo props for monetary gain, even if the money is earmarked for the conservation of the species?

It is time for captive wildlife facilities offering hands-on cheetah interactions to go back to basics and rethink the means by which funds are raised for conservation projects, allow these ambassadors to live an as natural as possible life in captivity, and stop supporting the many breeding farms in South Africa.

https://www.traveller24.com/Explore/Gre ... n-20180726
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Re: Captive cheetah breeding is reaching epidemic proportions in SA

Post by Mel » Fri Jul 27, 2018 11:28 am

Would be interesting to learn which facilities don't exploit the cheetah in Louise de Waal's opinion...
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Re: Captive cheetah breeding is reaching epidemic proportions in SA

Post by Richprins » Fri Jul 27, 2018 11:41 am

Can they just make a list of the crisis factors? What is the huge problem exactly? -O-
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