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KWS statement on Tumbo the cheetah cub

Date Published: 15 Oct, 2012
KWS statement on Tumbo the cheetah cub


Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) would like to set the record straight on ‘Tumbo’ the seven-month male cheetah cub that has been generating interest on social media.

The cheetah was rescued in Laikipia County by the local community in February 2012 and taken to Lemartis Camp in Nanyuki where it was kept for about four months without the knowledge of KWS as required by the law.  

KWS was only informed about it after the proprietor of the camp visited the Nanyuki station in June 2012. 

A letter purportedly written in March 2012 by Lemartis camp informing the KWS Nanyuki Station about the cub was never received. The camp’s proprietor was seeking permits to keep the cub. 

The warden in charge of the Nanyuki Station took the proprietor through the legal requirements for obtaining a permit to keep wild animals in captivity. In the meantime, he was advised that the cub should be delivered to the Nairobi Animal Orphanage until the permits were obtained. Keeping the cub without the necessary authority contravenes the laws and regulations.

Besides holding the cub for four months without the knowledge of KWS, it was also established that the cub had been illegally referred to private veterinary clinics in Nairobi due to some lameness. This was done without reference to KWS whatsoever who, as management authority of wildlife, should have been informed. At the clinic, the cub was established to have calcium deficiency resulting in weakness of its limbs.

Having heard nothing from Lemartis after the visit in June, a team from the KWS Nanyuki Station visited the camp in August 2012 to establish the status of the cub. To their surprise, they were informed that the cub had been secretly and without authority transferred to Kongoni Ranch in Naivasha. Again, this was done without reference to KWS.

Furthermore, this clandestine transfer from Laikipia to Naivasha was done without regard to stipulated national laws and regulations on wildlife custody and movement of animals (domestic and wild) within the country.

Kongoni Ranch is a private facility that is not licensed to keep wild animals in captivity under Kenyan laws and regulations. The management of the ranch has a registered charitable organisation called the Animal Rights Reserved (ARR) which has entered into an MoU with KWS to support in the provision of veterinary services to wildlife within Naivasha and its environs. This MoU does not include the care and custody of wild animals that rely on humans for the provision of all their needs. The ranch, to the best of our knowledge, lacks recommended housing facilities for such animals and has not demonstrated prerequisite skills and competencies to nurture animals that would rely entirely on humans for their needs. Thus, another illegality was committed.

Upon learning the blatant ignorance of the existing laws and regulations, KWS dispatched its curator (a vet) on August 31, 2012 to collect the cub and deliver it to the Nairobi Animal Orphanage as required by the law. 

When the cub was examined by the KWS vets, it was found to be having skeletal deformity of the limbs which was attributed to deficiency or impaired metabolism of vitamin D, phosphorus or calcium. Appropriate and immediate treatment was instituted. The cub was supplemented with dietary intake of calcium and phosphates and daily exposure to sunshine to achieve sufficient levels of Vitamin D. It was also de-wormed and provided with a balanced diet and appropriate veterinary health care.  It is being closely monitored and provided with all its needs to ensure the five freedoms of wild animals in captivity i.e. freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition; freedom from fear and distress by avoiding conditions that cause mental suffering; freedom from pain, injury and disease; freedom to express most normal behaviour by provision of sufficient space and enrichment as well as freedom from discomfort by providing suitable environment and housing. These were freedoms denied in both Laikipia and Naivasha making it suffer poor welfare standards.

After the cub was confiscated and put under the care of KWS vets within its orphanage facility, the management of Lemartis camp has expressed further desire to adopt the cub.

The procedures to follow have been explained to them.  Surprisingly, without following the stipulated procedures for application, they obtained the account details of the animal adoption program from the KWS website and went ahead to deposit US$ 3000 into the KWS bank account.

It must be made clear that KWS is not opposed to the adoption or nurturing of the cub by any interested party as long as established procedures are followed. As the competent authority in the management and conservation of wildlife in Kenya, KWS takes great exception to falsehoods that have been spread on social media about the cub.  

AS a public institution, we are ready and willing to engage stakeholders in managing and conserving wildlife. However, this approach is greatly compromised by the misleading and alarmist information that is being spread on social media.

We call upon all stakeholders to respect the Kenyan law and regulations on wildife conservation and management.



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