Dr. Laurie Marker to Give Cathryn Hilker, Founder of Cincinnati Zoo Cat Ambassador Program, the 2017 Cheetah Conservation Award
WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 29, 2017) – Dr. Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), the longest running cheetah conservation program in the world, will present its 2017 Cheetah Conservation Award to Cathryn Hilker, Founder of the Cincinnati Zoo Cat Ambassador Program at a special dinner at the zoo in Hilker’s honor. This occasion marks the first time CCF will give this award.
“Cathryn Hilker is a dear friend and big cat supporter that has been long associated with CCF and its mission of creating a permanent place for cheetahs on Earth,” said Dr. Laurie Marker. “It is an honor to know Cathryn, and I am exceptionally pleased to be giving her this award. She has dedicated a significant portion of her life to sustaining the cheetah and pioneering cat ambassador programs.”
The award will be given at an event hosted by The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden honoring Cathryn Hilker on Wednesday, April 5, 2017, beginning at 5:30 p.m. In addition to the award, the evening will include a talk by Dr. Marker, a cheetah ambassador encounter and dinner on the Africa Deck. The Cincinnati Zoo Foundation also plans to officially announce The Cathryn Hilker Angel Fund dedicated to the conservation of cats in the wild.
The event is by invitation only. Dr. Marker is available for media interview before and after the event.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 24, 2017) – Dr. Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) and one of the world’s leading experts on the cheetah, today announced dates for her upcoming, five-week speaking tour in the United States.
Traveling from her CCF field headquarters in Namibia, Dr. Marker will begin her U.S. engagements with a week in residence as an A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Dr. Marker will interact with students and professors during the week of March 27-31, 2017, as a guest lecturer and on March 28, she will give an on-campus public talk in the school’s Biotechnology Building, “The Amazing Race… to Save the Cheetah.” In this presentation, Dr. Marker will chronicle her 40-plus-year career that has taken her around the globe several times in efforts to save the world’s fastest land mammal from extinction.
Immediately following her week at Cornell, Dr. Marker will travel to Atlanta, Georgia, for a fundraising event with special guest Jim Fowler of television’s legendary Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom at the Golf Club of Georgia in Alpharetta, Georgia. At the event, Dr. Marker will speak and bestow CCF Silver Medallions on Fowler and John Wilson, a CCF Trustee and longtime supporter, and Dante Stephensen, a well-known Atlanta businessman and former owner of Dante’s Down the Hatch, for their many important contributions to cheetah conservation.
On April 5, Dr. Marker will appear at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s dinner honoring local resident Cathryn Hilker, Founder of the Cincinnati Zoo Cat Ambassador Program. Dr. Marker and Hilker have known each other for 30 years and have a shared passion for cheetah conservation. Cathryn Hilker and her late husband Carl were integral to the development of CCF in Namibia and played an instrumental role in acquiring some of the land where CCF’s Field Research & Education Centre is now based. Dr. Marker will give a talk about cheetahs and present Cathryn Hilker with the 2017 CCF Cheetah Conservation Award, marking the first occasion on which this honor will be given.
In Tucson, Arizona, Dr. Marker will make a presentation and hold a Q&A session following a screening of an extended cut of a Born to Explore with Richard Wiese episode featuring Dr. Marker and CCF to be televised on PBS later this year. At this “Wild About Cheetahs” event held at The Loft Cinema, Dr. Marker will also sell and autograph copies of her book, A Future for Cheetahs.
On April 19, Dr. Marker will speak at Happy Hollow Zoo in San Jose, California. She will be joined by a canine animal ambassador that represents the livestock guarding dogs Dr. Marker introduced to Africa in 1994 that help protect cheetahs from conflict with farmers. On April 22, Dr. Marker will host another public talk at the Living Desert Zoo in Palm Desert, California, to honor the cheetah on Earth Day. Later that evening, she will host a fundraising event, “Sundowner in the Desert,” featuring an ambassador cheetah at a private residence.
Next, Dr. Marker will present back-to-back events in New Jersey. At 11 a.m. on Thursday, April 27, Dr. Marker will address 200 young learners at the Liberty Science Center in Liberty, New Jersey, on the role livestock guarding dogs play in cheetah conservation, “The Human-Wildlife Conflict: How Dogs Are Saving Cats.” In the evening, Dr. Marker will co-host a fundraising event with television host Richard Wiese at Liberty House Restaurant in Jersey City, New Jersey. The pair will speak about the need for stepped up conservation efforts to save the species and screen the extended cut of Born to Explore featuring Dr. Marker and CCF.
Dr. Marker will conclude her public speaking tour with a presentation at the Wildlife Conservation Network Spring Expo on the campus of Dominican University of California in San Rafael, California, on April 29, 2017.
Dr. Marker will visit several other cities on this tour for private events and meetings, including Palo Alto, Santa Cruz, San Francisco and Los Angeles, California; New York, New York; Denver, Colorado; Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; Washington, District of Columbia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Jacksonville, Florida.
For her full Spring Tour itinerary and list of events, go to cheetah.org/events.
Cheetah Conservation Fund Demonstrates CK-3 Carbonizing Kiln for Industry Delegation atits Biomass Technology Demonstration Centre
gies are utilised in the manufacture of briquette logs, charcoal hex logs, lump charcoal, and for pyrolysis-based electrical generation. Phase two will include other promising technologies to be employed in wood pellet production, including alternative chipping power trains and Stirling engines. The CK-3 is primarily used to carbonize some of the Bushblok that CCF produces, but will also be used to demonstrate production of traditional charcoal from raw wood pieces. The new kiln has been in operation at CCF since November of 2016.
CCF’s production of Bushblok is certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC)™, a standard that ensures products come from responsibly managed lands and provide environmental, social and economic benefits. It is the highest standard in forestry management. Bushblok is used for cooking fires, braai, home heating and industrial heat applications and is classified as a smokeless fuel.
“CCF’s Bush Project and its sustainable harvest of overgrown thornbush restores grasslands for farmers and livestock, and allows for more space for predators and their prey. It also helps stave off desertification, which is a critical concern for Namibia, with its arid climate and millions of hectares of encroached lands”, said Dr Laurie Marker, CCF Founder and Executive Director. “We are very pleased to have the support of the European Union in this important project”.
Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency Supports Cheetah Conservation Fund with New Structure for Livestock Guarding Dogs
OTJIWARONGO, NAMIBIA (20 Feb. 2017) – A delegation representing the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) visited Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) Tuesday, 7 February, 2017, to view a shelter and enclosure TIKA recently donated to CCF’s Livestock Guarding Dog (LGD) Programme. The structure was designed to house 3 adult breeding dogs and their puppies residing at CCF’s Field Research and Education Centre. CCF’s LDG Programme uses two rare Turkish breeds, the Anatolian Shepherd and the Kangal, which have been relied upon for thousands of years to guard livestock in Turkey. In Namibia, the dogs serve farmers in a similar role, protecting small stock from cheetahs and other predators.
The visiting delegation included H.E. Serdar Çam, TIKA President; H.E. Mrs. Deniz Cakar, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey; and Mr. Cüneyt Esmer, TIKA Namibia Country Director. The dignitaries toured CCF, visiting the new structure and stopping to take photos with many of the working dogs and a litter of six- week-old puppies. The guests also viewed cheetahs, the species that LGD’s are charged with protecting, at CCF’s adjacent Cheetah Sanctuary.
Since 1994, CCF has provided LGDs to farmers as non-lethal tools for controlling predation. The dogs are specially trained to guard small stock on farmlands, serving as a buffer between goats and sheep and predators like the cheetah, hyena and African wild dog. The two breeds were chosen because of their success guarding livestock in Turkey, a country with similar terrain and climate, and for their large size, loud bark and fiercely protective nature.
“We are very grateful to our friends at TIKA for making this generous donation to support our work, their second”, said Dr Laurie Marker, CCF Founder and Executive Director. “In addition to the new dog shelter and enclosure, TIKA also gave us a truck in 2015 that we use to deliver puppies and to visit farms regularly for health check-ups and to administer veterinary care, if needed. With TIKA’s assistance, we are better able to keep up with demand for our dogs, as well as provide for their ongoing care”.
CCF has placed more than 600 dogs with Namibian farmers since the programme began in 1994, and is on track to deliver another 50 puppies in 2017. The dogs are credited with saving hundreds of cheetah lives since the LGD programme began, as well as the lives of other predators and small stock.
TIKA was established in 1992 to serve as an implementing intermediary of Turkish foreign policy. The agency supports projects on five continents in 120 countries. TIKA maintains 50 Programme Coordination Offices in 48 partner counties, including one in Windhoek. TIKA President Çam expressed interest in assisting CCF more with its model farm and providing workshops for livestock breeding to train more people in the agriculture sector. CCF hopes to work with the organisation to make this happen in the future.
Additional photos are available by request. For more information about CCF and its Livestock Guarding Dog Programme, please visit www.cheetah.org.
Cheetah Conservation Fund and Other Experts Ask for Reclassification of Cheetahfrom Vulnerable to Endangered Status in New Report
OTJIWARONGO, NAMIBIA (27 Dec 2016) – The wild cheetah population is declining at an alarming rate, prompting conservationists to call upon the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to upgrade its classification of the world’s fastest mammal from vulnerable to the more serious category of endangered.
“We are sounding a loud warning cry, otherwise we may lose the species during our lifetimes”, said Dr Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) and a co-author of the report published 26 Dec. in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Disappearing spots: The global decline of cheetah and what it means for conservation”. The paper is a result of a range wide cheetah program that brought together cheetah researchers throughout the species’ remaining range to compile the best data on habitat and threats facing this iconic big cat.
An estimated 7,100 cheetahs remain scattered across Africa with a small number (approximately 50 or less) in Iran, the last of the Asian sub-species. This represents more than a 90-percent drop from 100 years ago, when the total population was estimated at 100,000. The main reason for the dramatic decline is human encroachment, change in land tenure, large scale fencing, political instability and that the protected area systems are insufficient for long-term survival, with most cheetahs living outside protected areas. According to the report, because of growing human populations, the cheetah has also lost more than of 90 percent of its historic habitat.
Cheetahs, due to their non-aggressive nature, do not fare well in wildlife reserves and other protected areas, where other predators steal their prey and kill their young. This brings cheetahs into close contact with farmers and other rural Africans, leading to increased conflict. Close to 70% of the remaining cheetah population is found outside of protected areas, with about 50% of the population found in southern African countries. These populations fall into ‘ecological traps’ as human wildlife conflict and habitat fragmentation occurs and higher extinction rates occur outside of protected areas. “For instance in Zimbabwe, an 85% decline of the population has occurred in the past 15 years due to land redistribution and politically instability”, said Marker.
“Cheetahs can reduce in numbers very drastically over a short period of time, as predators are more likely to be targeted and removed than smaller species”, said Dr Anne-Schmidt-Kuentzel, CCF’s Research Geneticist and Assistant Director of Animal Health and Research and co-author of the paper. “This fact needs to be taken into consideration when assessing the cheetah’s status”.
In order to circumvent the ramifications of small, isolated populations, a comprehensive understanding of the entire landscape where these populations occur is critical to developing an understanding of the socio-cultural demographic and economy of the communities in which they are found. This will allow for linking incentive-based approaches to assist communities along with policies and management strategies for cheetahs living outside protected areas.
To mitigate, CCF conducts farmer education and community outreach programmes and has introduced the Livestock Guarding Dog to the continent, the single most effective, non-lethal predator control tool. CCF has bred, trained and placed more than 650 of these dogs with Namibian farmers since 1994, and the organization has helped launch similar programmes in Botswanna, South Africa and Tanzania, saving hundreds of cheetah lives.
In addition to human-carnivore conflict and habitat loss, cheetahs are threatened by the illegal pet trade, where demand for cheetah cubs to become pets (predominantly from the Gulf States) drives poaching and smuggling operations in the Horn of Africa. “CCF recently led the efforts for CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) to recognise the issues surrounding the illegal trade and poaching, and now steps are being taken to address. At the same time, we also need to look at land use changes, game fencing, and political instability, as those issues are also major factors contributing to this decline”, said Marker.
In Namibia, where CCF is based, cheetah conservation efforts are embraced by the government and the local populace. This has set the stage for the possibility of a cheetah comeback. Namibia has approximately one-third of the world’s cheetahs, earning the country its nickname, “Cheetah Capital of the World”.
For more information, contact: email@example.com or go to www.cheetah.org.
The cheetahs would like a holiday gift too. Please donate to our Year-End Challenge today.
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For the past 26 years CCF has worked to secure the cheetah population in Namibia, with the awareness that saving the species means our work must extend past Namibia’s borders. We began our collaborations in Kenya 15 years ago and Angola six years ago. Your support has enabled us to secure more territory for the cheetah in the wild, and CCF needs your help again.
During 2016, CCF's efforts have increased on bolstering our conservation partnerships in Kenya and Angola, two countries with populations of cheetahs facing different conservation challenges.
Kenya is one of the strongholds for cheetah populations in spite of the problems they face with habitat loss, human/wildlife conflict and the illegal pet trade. In January of this year, Kenya was the location chosen for the Pathways Conference, a yearly gathering and training program for scientists, researchers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), focusing on human/wildlife coexistence. I joined representatives from our partner organization, Action for Cheetahs in Kenya, in attending this informative conference. We were able to meet with representatives from international organizations as well as members of the parliament in Kenya, who were eager to become engaged in cheetah conservation.
CCF is currently engaged in ongoing studies focused on building a better understanding of the cheetah population in Angola. Prior to my research expedition in 2010, it was widely believed that the thirty-year civil war had wiped out most of the wildlife in Angola including the wild cheetah population. After a three-day survey, we discovered evidence of cheetahs living in Iona National Park. Since that expedition we have been supporting capacity building and conservation research initiatives to assist government and conservation biologists working in Angola, among 15 other cheetah range countries.
A donation will help ensure that CCF continues to expand its efforts to bring CCF’s proven conservation strategies to other cheetah range countries. By focusing our efforts on restoring ecosystems so that humans and cheetahs can live in harmony side-by-side, and building our scientific understanding of cheetah populations, we will save the species.
Cheetah Conservation Fund and Association of Zoos and Aquariums Join to Present 6th Annual International Cheetah Day
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 1, 2016) – Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), the world’s longest running cheetah research, education and conservation organization, is partnering with the U.S.-based Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) to lead the sixth annual observance of International Cheetah Day this Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. Developed to generate awareness for the cheetah -- Africa’s most endangered big cat -- the two organizations are offering activities to inspire people of all ages to celebrate this feline icon of speed and grace. International Cheetah Day is also intended to educate young learners about the species’ plight through school projects and zoo talks, as well as inspire entire families to get involved with conservation efforts.
“International Cheetah Day serves to remind us that the cheetah, like all wildlife, is a treasure of our planet and its survival depends on human conservation action,” said Dr. Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of CCF. “The fate of cheetahs rests with us and the next generation. The species has survived more than three million years through the Ice Age and a genetic bottleneck, only to have its numbers decimated by almost 90 percent in the last century. Unless we act now, we may lose the cheetah during our lifetimes.”
CCF and AZA are encouraging zoos and schools around the world to help spark young people’s interest in conservation by recognizing International Cheetah Day with cheetah-themed activities and classroom lessons. Teaching and outreach materials, including a downloadable activities packet designed for elementary-aged schoolchildren and a PowerPoint presentation with notes, can be accessed through CCF’s websites, www.cheetah.org and www.internationalcheetahday.org. Cheetah photos, videos and social media links are also available for download.
“Not many people have the chance to visit Africa to see cheetahs in person, but they can visit their local AZA-accredited facility to see these and other big cats up close,” said Kris Vehrs, Interim President and CEO of AZA. “AZA members take very seriously their obligation to cheetah conservation, investing nearly $1.6 million in cheetah conservation efforts over the past five years and educating thousands of guests on the plight of the cheetah. In addition, through AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE), AZA members are working with a variety of organizations like Cheetah Conservation Fund to focus resources and raise awareness about why saving cheetahs is important. International Cheetah Day is one day AZA members are proud to support!”
The two organizations also offer suggestions for ways people can celebrate International Cheetah Day:
CCF’s Dr. Marker is internationally recognized as a foremost expert on the cheetah. She designated Dec. 4 as International Cheetah Day in remembrance of Khayam, a cheetah she raised from a cub at Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. Dr. Marker brought Khayam to Namibia to determine if captive-born cheetahs could be taught to hunt. Their efforts were successful and eventually the pair returned to Oregon. But during this trip, Dr. Marker witnessed wild cheetahs being exterminated by African farmers. In 1990, she launched CCF and permanently relocated to the newly-formed nation to mitigate conflict. Because of her experience with Khayam, Dr. Marker dedicated her life to becoming the cheetah’s champion, and she chose Khayam’s birthday for this important honor.
Association of Zoos & Aquariums
Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and eight other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. Members of AZA are leaders in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit www.aza.org.
CCF’s Conservation Passport, Activity Packet, cheetah photos, videos and social media links can be downloaded for free at www.internationalcheetahday.com
Dr. Laurie Marker, CCF Founder and Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Yannetti, CCF External Relations Manager; email@example.com or 202.716.7756
The U.S. Regional Environment Office (REO) for East Africa, working with U.S. Missions in the region, has begun a multi-pronged campaign focused on combating the illegal trade in cheetahs. REO partnered with CCF on the first step of the campaign, to print and distribute posters featuring photographs of cheetahs with messages discouraging participation in this illegal trade. U.S. Missions are working with government wildlife authorities, NGOs, and the private sector to place the posters in public venues in East Africa and the Middle East to help raise awareness about the negative impacts of the illegal wildlife trade.
The REO is sharing these posters with CCF along with other Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and cheetah stakeholders and making them available for download.