x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Dh30,000 to buy cheetah online ... until advert pulled

A baby cheetah was available for sale briefly on Dubizzle.

DUBAI // You can buy almost anything on Dubizzle including, for a brief moment this weekend, a baby cheetah.

An advertisement for a female two-month-old cheetah was up for a day before site administrators spotted and removed it. The animal was being sold for Dh30,000, although the price was negotiable.

"It happens from time to time with exotic animals," said JC Butler, a co-founder of Dubizzle. "It's happening less now because we are pretty good at blocking these ads."

Dubizzle tightly restricts the trading of animals. However, the site does receive its fair share of adverts touting exotic - but legal - goods.

"We had someone selling a Boeing 727. Someone else was selling an island in the Maldives with a house and a yacht," Mr Butler said.

"One of our favourites was an advert looking for a flux capacitor, so the buyer could go back in time and right a few wrongs."

Mr Butler said they receive close to 20,000 adverts a day.

"Our system and our administrators are able to block a few hundred a day," he said. "Our automatic filters are never going to be good enough to outsmart humans who want to outsmart it. We're constantly updating it and trying to make it more intelligent and plug any holes we might find.

"We also have administrators who are looking for anything that breaks our posting rules on the site, which of course would encompass anything illegal in the respective countries that we operate in.

"It's very rare that something like this would fall through the cracks, but it can happen because we get so many ads. Normally if it does, it gets taken down quite quickly."

The sale of exotic animals such as cheetahs is prohibited without proper permission from officials at the Ministry of Environment trained in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

What trade there is in endangered animals is normally conducted under the counter, at pet souqs across the country.

mcroucher@thenational.ae