The Cheetah Conservation Botswana (CCB) is reporting the loss of Legolas, a large male cheetah that formed a vital part of the CCB’s on-going research.
Legolas was fitted with a tracking collar, but this did not prevent his demise on a remote stretch of the A2 Highway in western Botswana. Shot gun cartridges were found near Legolas’ body, suggesting he was intentionally killed, but with no livestock in the vicinity, Legolas’ killing appears motiveless and is being pursued as a case of illegal poaching.
Of the seven cheetahs that CCB collared in its research project starting in July 2014, so far three have been confirmed to have been shot.
According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Published 2008) the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) populations are declining (7,500 – 10,000). So this is yet another species declared by the IUCN as ‘Vulnerable’ but in decline. Still there are exemptions to the cheetah’s CITES Appendix I listing (Species+) – 2015 Trophy Hunting quotas and ‘live specimens’ were allowed as follows: “Annual export quotas for live specimens and hunting trophies are granted as follows: Botswana: 5; Namibia: 150; Zimbabwe: 50.”
How can CITES exemptions be granted for “Hunting Trophies” and “Live Specimens” when a species is so under threat?