Every year, thousands of wild animals are exported out of South Africa and traded to zoos, sold as pets or simply disappear abroad, potentially ending up in meat markets. High on the demand list is one of Africa’s favourite short-distance sprinters – the cheetah. Marketed as the “cat most like a dog”, a King Cheetah can cost up to R1.5 million a pop. Raising a cheetah cub as a pet can lead to its death as its diet is too specialised to easily be accommodated. But that doesn’t put off international buyers. Interpol says the illegal wildlife trade is a multi-billion-dollar industry, but overlaying, and probably supporting it, is the legal trade. Carte Blanche investigates.
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