Sanctuaries based in Namibia and Kenya offered to take wild animals owned by wealthy people in the UAE following an amnesty period that allowed animals to be rehomed.
The deadline was July 1st; one of the largest havens for rescued cheetahs say they have yet to be contacted despite efforts to form links with private owners of wild animals in the UAE.
Patricia Tricorache, at the Cheetah Conservation Fund, said her research into illegal sales estimates that as many as 500 of the wildcats could be held privately in the UAE.
Sanctuaries like the one run by the CCF for illegally traded and rescued cats are crucial for the survival of the species, as many would not survive if returned to the wild.
In January 2014 a group of CCF experts visited the UAE to train veterinarians and cheetah-housing facilities in cheetah care.
“We hoped that through this training we could improve conditions for pet cheetahs,” said Tricorache. “However, there is much secrecy on this issue, so we are unable to determine whether the training improved conditions for some of the pet cheetahs in the country.”
Despite forging links with cheetah owners in the UAE, the CCF has not been contacted by any owners about sending some of the captive animals to Namibia.
Federal law 22 of 2016 regulates the possession, trade and breeding of dangerous animals. It came into force in January and those found in possession of such pets could face a heavy fine.