Authorities have taken custody of a live cheetah that was set to be put on a flight at London’s Heathrow airport.

Airport news for Heathrow,Travel on 12/01/2012.

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Officials from the UK Border agency said that that African cheetah is now being held at a British wildlife park after customs officials became suspicious when upon the discovery that the animal’s identification microchip was missing.

Named Isaac, the cheetah was headed to Russia from a safari park in South Africa via Heathrow. But transporting an endangered animal without an ID microchip is a violation of rules established by the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species. The Border Agency has said that identification microchips are part of a system designed to prevent and stop the illegal trafficking of endangered animals.

Marc Owen said on behalf of the UK Border Authority that it’s entirely possible that the missing chip could simply be an accident, largely because two of the three other cheetahs had successfully gone through Heathrow on the same day, whilst one was sent back to Africa. However, Isaac will remain in Britain until it is established why his microchip has gone missing, officials said.

Mr Owen noted that the illegal trade of endangered animals was a major contributing factor in the threat facing many species, which is why regulations for transporting them are very strict.

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