Paloma Russ is not a newcomer to cheetah conservation. She has been working with CCF to help save Africa’s most endangered big cat for many years. In the past she has raised money with lemonade stands and bake sales, and she currently makes and sells greeting cards featuring her original artwork and donates the proceeds to CCF. Paloma has given presentations to her school and the local 4-H program in Marin County, California, and has volunteered with CCF at events such as Earth Day at the Oakland Zoo and the Wildlife Conservation Network Expo in San Francisco.
According to Paloma, she became inspired to get involved in the fight to save the cheetah when she was just three-years-old. This early desire morphed into action after she met Dr. Laurie Marker, CCF’s Founder and Executive Director, at Safari West in Santa Rosa, California.
“When I was three, I saw a movie about African cats and I thought cheetahs were really cool. It said the population was dropping below 10,000 and that made me upset. I decided I wanted to help keep cheetahs around, because they are in trouble, and because I wanted to see one in person,” said Paloma. “At my event last October, my dream came true! We had Themba, an ambassador cheetah from The Wild Cat Education & Conservation Fund in Occidental, California, make an appearance to help people understand more about the species. This was my favorite part of the event. It was awesome to see how interested people are in the cheetah!”
“We are thrilled when amazing young people like Paloma step forward and take on a very mature responsibility like fundraising. Not only are her actions inspiring, they give us hope that the work of CCF will be sustainable over future generations,” said Dr. Marker. “Paloma is a hero for the cheetah.”
Since 2003, AFN has recognized more than 150 young people from over 20 countries and 25 U.S. states. Awarded annually, recipients of the International Young Eco-Hero Award are selected by a panel of independent judges, including experts in environmental science, biology and education.
“It makes me so happy to know I’m inspiring other kids to take action and help save endangered animals and take care of the environment,” added Paloma.
AFN is an international non-profit organization based in San Francisco, California, that encourages young people to nurture a love and respect for Earth’s natural resources and to take personal action to better their environments. Paloma received her award at a ceremony held at Google corporate headquarters in Mountain View on September 16, 2017.
Washington, D.C. (Oct. 12, 2017) — Aruna Gauba, a thirteen-year-old student from northern California, and Dr. Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), have published a new biography detailing Marker’s early life and 40-plus year career dedicated to cheetah conservation, The Cheetah Lady. The official launch will take place at the Wildlife Conservation Expo (WCN) on October 14, 2017, in San Francisco, and the book will be for available for purchase at CCF events for $20.00. All proceeds from sales will benefit CCF’s program to save the wild cheetah.
The inspiring collaboration between Aruna and Dr. Marker began when the pair met three years ago when the budding author was just 10 years-old. Living in the San Francisco Bay area, Aruna and her mother, Savitha Narayanan, regularly attend the annual WCN Expo where Aruna is a familiar, energetic presence. In 2015, she approached Dr. Marker with the suggestion of collaborating on a biography.
“I was introduced to Dr. Laurie Marker in a book, Chasing Cheetahs, and then I read more about her on a CCF website for kids. I met her for the first time at the Expo and was very excited because she has done so much work to preserve my favorite animal, the cheetah. She inspired me to get involved in fundraising,” said Aruna.
Like most girls her age, Aruna enjoys playing games — she is a chess standout –and socializing with friends at her school, the Khan Lab School in Mountain View, California, but unlike most others, she is already the author of two books to help raise money for cheetah conservation (her earlier work was a biography on Rebecca Klein of Cheetah Conservation Botswana, CCF’s sister program). What motivates such a young girl to take on such ambitious projects? According to Aruna, many people around the world are inspired by this magnificent big cat, but very few have dedicated their entire lives to help save them from extinction like Dr. Marker.
The Cheetah Lady tells the story of how Dr. Marker became a conservationist in 50 pages. The book includes many photos of Dr. Marker from childhood through the present and a timeline of milestone events in her life. The introduction is by Dr. Bruce Brewer, CCF’s General Manager. The book is intended for young readers, to reach them with messages about the importance of biodiversity and conservation in maintaining a healthy planet.
“Engaging young learners about conservation is a key strategy in CCF’s mission to save the wild cheetah from extinction, and I’ve often said we need to raise an army of conservationists if we hope to save the species. Collaborating with Aruna to create this book was a unique opportunity and one that is very special to me,” said Dr. Marker. “I predict she will become a leader in this movement as she grows up. She is one to keep an eye on.”