Rob Driessen (rob_d) wrote,
Rob Driessen

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World animal day: Patch and Scout

Today, almost every pet will be getting a toy, a treat, extra attention. Today, I want to grab the opportunity to share a story with you. A story to show that in some parts of the world, attention should be given to animals in the bad sense of the word: humans.

I give you the story of Patch and Scout.

October 2005, Gode, Ethiopia. In an area close to the Somalian border, US soldiers are stationed for humanitarian aid. One day a man comes to the military post with 2 cheetah cubs, no more than 4 months old, one of them badly injured to one eye. The man asks if the soldiers can give medical aid to the cubs. When the man returns a few times over the next few weeks, the soldiers get suspicious and follow him. He turns out to own a hotel and restaurant where the two cubs are forced to fight each other for the sake of entertainment. Since cheetahs aren't aggressive by nature, it's frightening to think how they were trained to do so.

The soldiers try to convince the man to hand the cubs over to them. The man refuses: "I've tended goats since I was a little boy, so I know how to handle animals.... But I'm willing to sell them to you, 1000 dollar per cub."

Patch has been seriously injured to his right eye by now, most likely resulting in permanent blindness. The man claims that the poachers who caught him kicked him, although the soldiers suspect he was injured in the fights or by mistreatmen by the man himself. They realise there's not much they can do directly, so they contact the Cheetah Conservation Fund, as well as the media. A reporter who visits the restaurant says "The 2 sons of the owner, aged 2 and 4 pulled the cubs' tails. Tight ropes were tied around the cheetahs' necks, the kids pulling them around by those ropes. Next, the scared-to-death cubs were harassed, beaten and pushed by other locals."

The CCF gets in contact with Ethiopian authorities and the lobbying starts. Finally, the government acts, sending a vet to Gode who takes the cubs to the US military base where they are examined and given some rest. The damage is severe. The cubs (by now named Patch and Scout) are badly malnourished. The owner had mainly fed them milk and cheese, disastrous for a young, growing carnivore. This wrong diet had also led to constant diarrhea which in turn caused dehydration. Patch's right eye can not be saved anymore....

Nov. 29th: The US soldiers transfer Patch and Scout to the capital Addis Adaba. Their new quarters: the presidential palace, with 3 lions and a few apes as neighbours. Alas, it's not as good as it sounds. With a nearly bankrupt country, money is hard to get by and financial aid has to be provided.

May 26th 2006: The Dutch ambassador in Ethiopia visits the cubs and sends a report to the dutch SPOTS foundation: "I visited the National Palace today, previously owned by emperor Heile Selassie. The cheetahs have their cage in the garden. It's an old enclosure, next to a monkeycage. One cheetah is significantly larger than the other, he only has one enlarged eye, probably because of mistreatment. Apart from that he looks reasonably healthy, walks around and approaches the fence curiously. The other cub is smaller, skinnier and is napping in the sun. He can't walk very well and wobbles a bit. It's saddening to watch."

June 2nd 2006: The CCF is informed that Patch, the cub with the injured eye died of unknown reasons on the 30th of May. Since he was in a very good condition and very normal, his death was much unexpected. The veterenarian necropsy report indicates that, except for a slightly irritated liver, the vet did not find anything that could have caused Patch's sudden death. Laurie Marker, the head of CCF visits the palace two weeks later to check up on Scout. By now he has been adopted by the American embassy. A new pen is being built and he is getting medical care and good food. Two of his legs turn out to be deformed, causing the limping.

March 2007

Through complications after an operation, Scout dies as well. A very sad ending to a sad story, with only one little ray of light. The story of Patch and Scout has led to co=operation between local and international organisations. The trade in endangered animals is exposed in Ethiopia, and many organisations call for change. A change brought about by the death of two innocent cheetah cubs, in a country where the cheetah population is nowadays estimated around 1000.

Rest in peace, Patch and Scout. May others of your kind be spared from your short, hard life.


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