Security forces in Saudi Arabia have reportedly arrested a number of people accused of trying to smuggle cheetahs into the country.
Local media said the suspects had travelled on foot across rough terrain on the border with Yemen.
The security personnel noticed movements in bags that the smugglers had on their backs. They were opened, and the cheetahs discovered.
The animals are trafficked from the Horn of Africa to the Gulf states, where they are sold as pets.
Conservationists say many die en route and warn that the illegal trade is threatening to wipe out the cheetah populations in countries like Somalia and Ethiopia.
Owning or trading wild animals is illegal in Saudi Arabia, yet lions and cheetahs are still being smuggled and kept as pets.
A man in 2019 was arrested after he was caught taking lion on a stroll in Jeddah. The man was seen with a lion in public and local security agencies received an alert of the situation of the dangers the lion could pose for hanging out outside a café on one of Jeddah’s main roads.
The Saudi Wildlife Authority has repeatedly warned against the private ownership and sale of wild animals, though enforcement remains lax. Still, people in Saudi Arabia are advised to report anyone caught in illegal possession of such animals.