Business, Finance & Economics

Wildlife News: Endangered cheetah stopped at Heathrow airport


A cheetah hisses on July 20, 2010 in the Edeni Game Reserve, South Africa. Edeni is a 21,000 acre wilderness area with an abundance of game and birdlife located near Kruger National Park in South Africa.


Cameron Spencer

BOSTON — Isaac is strong, fast and handsome and he was kidnapped during his journey from South Africa to Russia. He is being held at Britain's Heathrow Airport for his own safety.

Isaac is a cheetah.

Read more on GlobalPost: Cheetah found prowling streets of Abu Dhabi

The endangered African cheetah was stopped at London's Heathrow Airport when border officials were suspicious about the animal's missing identity microchip, according to the BBC.

Isaac landed in Heathrow on Dec. 22 and was one of four other animals being transported from South Africa to Russia.

Of his three traveling companions, two female cheetahs have continued on their journey to Russia, while another male cheetah will now be transported back to South Africa, said UK Home Office.

Isaac will be kept in a UK wildlife park until it is known why his microchip is missing, UK Border Agency (UKBA) told BBC.

The Border Agency says all endangered animals have to be clearly identifiable by a unique marking to be allowed to travel.

These markings, like a microchip, are used to tackle the illegal trade within endangered animals and stop smugglers from cheating the system.

Marc Owen, head of border operations at Heathrow airport, said:

"The illicit trade in animals is a serious contributory factor in the threat of extinction faced by many endangered species, and that is why the rules around moving them are so strict."

Transporting endangered animals without microchips is also a violation of an international treaty of the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Defenders of Wildlife says there were over 100,000 cheetahs across their historic range in 1900.

Today, only 9,000 to 12,000 cheetahs remain in the wild in Africa, according to estimates. 

Currently Isaac is in good health and will be kept at a UK wildlife park while investigations continue, reported UK Press Association

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Here's a video of Isaac the cheetah: