WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 23, 2016) – Dr. Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) and one of the world’s leading experts on the species, today announced the dates for her upcoming, five-week speaking tour of the United States. Traveling from her CCF field headquarters in Namibia, Dr. Marker will embark on her U.S. tour Oct. 8 in California and conclude Nov. 12 in Florida. Dr. Marker’s visit to the U.S. follows her attendance to COP17, the meeting of the Convention for Trade in Endangered Animals (CITES) in South Africa, to support its efforts to stop the illegal trafficking of cheetahs. Dr. Marker’s U.S. tour is intended to generate more awareness for the plight of the cheetah, Africa’s most endangered big cat, and raise funds for continued conservation efforts.
Dr. Marker’s tour includes events in 13 cities across the country, including stops in Palo Alto, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Sausalito, Santa Rosa, Saint Helena, Santa Barbara, and Moorpark, California; Portland, Oregon; Washington, District of Columbia; Powell, Ohio; New York, New York; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Dr. Marker will begin her tour as a featured conservationist speaking at the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) Expo in San Francisco Oct. 8, an annual event that brings together wildlife supporters with conservationists from around the world. During her visit to the nation’s capital, Marker will present a public lecture sponsored by The Smithsonian Institution Oct. 18 at the Ripley Center. She will also speak at the 15th Annual Cheetah Conservation Fund Benefit Oct. 20 at the offices of Foley & Lardner, where she will be joined by members of CCF’s Board of Directors, donors and other national wildlife experts to celebrate CCF’s positive impact on the world’s cheetah population.
Dr. Marker is a zoologist, research scientist and conservation biologist who is considered to be one of the world’s leading experts on the cheetah and human-predator conflict mitigation. Earning her DPhil at Oxford University, she has spent more than 40 years in the field studying cheetah biology, genetics, ecology and socio-economic issues related to conservation. She is credited with successfully mitigating conflict between farmers and cheetahs in Namibia and saving the lives of hundreds of cheetahs and other large carnivores with innovative, non-lethal predator control strategies, including the use of livestock guarding dogs and the advancement of communal and commercial conservancies.
Dr. Marker is an Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University and has received many awards in recognition including the 2015 Ulysses S. Seal Award for Innovation in Conservation, a 2015 E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Technology Pioneer Award and a 2015 Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal. Dr. Marker is also the recipient of the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, the International Conservation Caucus Foundation’s Good Steward Award, the Tech Museum’s Intel Environmental Prize, and is a two-time finalist for the Indianapolis Prize, the top award in species conservation. She was named a “Hero for the Planet” by Time magazine and has been featured in Smithsonian magazine as well as The Tonight Show, Good Morning America and the Today Show.
Media are invited to cover CCF events and Dr. Marker is available for media interview. Please contact CCF Executive Assistant to Dr. Marker, Paula Martin, at (703) 615-8293 to schedule.
Cheetah Conservation Fund Study Examines Cheetah Preferences in Trees Used To Communicate Through Scent-Marking
OTJIWARONGO, Namibia (8 Sept, 2016) – A Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) study published in late August in Global Ecology and Conservation offers new insight on the spatial structuring of Namibian cheetahs. Scent-post preference of free-ranging Namibian cheetahs by lead author Eli Walker, examines the species use of olfactory communication to send messages via scent marking, with researchers attempting to determine why cheetahs choose certain trees to mark rather than others. In Namibia, these trees are known as “playtrees” or “newspaper trees.”
“Cheetahs are known to have large, overlapping home ranges, and scent-marking behavior supports the notion cheetahs are using a time-share approach to territorial spacing,” said Dr. Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of CCF. “This system allows multiple cheetahs to use the same general area while reducing the chances for aggressive or unexpected encounters with other individuals.”
The study is significant because until now, the subject of cheetah spatial structuring has been largely unexplored. CCF scientists can now better understand investigating behavior and scent-marking patterns and their relationship to home range size and habitat use by Namibian cheetahs. This additional research may corroborate understanding of intraspecific cheetah interaction in regards to scent-marking, and will incorporate available research tools, such as scat detection dogs and genetic analysis.
CCF relies on the findings of its research to form the basis for its effective strategies to conserve the wild cheetah. When CCF was established in 1990, Namibia had approximately 2,500 wild cheetah, and today, that number is actually closer to 3,500. This is a 180-degree turn from just a few decades ago, when Namibian cheetahs were disappearing at the rate of several hundred each year during the 1970s and 1980s, largely due to unchecked conflict with livestock and game farmers.
CCF strategies to mitigate human-wildlife conflict include farmer education and training in non-lethal predator control techniques. CCF’s vocational agriculture training course, Future Farmers of Africa, has certified more than 5,000 Namibian men and women in integrated wildlife and livestock farming techniques. The course provides basic information on animal husbandry, vaccinations, hoof care and calving strategies, and extends into integrated livestock/wildlife farming techniques designed to reduce chances for conflict. The course includes training in the use of a CCF Livestock Guarding Dog, a specially trained dog bred to work with livestock farmers in rocky, arid terrain. Farmers in Namibia using a CCF Livestock Guarding Dog report an 80 to 100 percent drop in losses due to predation, making it the singular most valuable tool farmers have to reduce conflict.
The cheetah remains the most endangered big cat in Africa. Its numbers have dropped from a total population of 100,000 approximately 100 years ago to less than 10,000 today. Namibia has the greatest density of wild cheetah, with an estimated one-third of remaining wild cheetahs living within its national borders. Cheetah Conservation Fund works to conserve the wild cheetah throughout its range, with a particular focus on the Namibian cheetah, to fortify the last wild cheetah stronghold.