Researchers Convene at Symposium to Conduct a Conservation Assessment of Namibia’s Carnivores, to produce a Red Data Book on Carnivores in Namibia
Windhoek – (27 November 2017) – From 8th – 10th of November, researchers from across Namibia convened at B2Gold’s Otjikoto Nature Reserve and Environmental Centre to conduct an assessment of the conservation status of Namibia’s carnivore species. This symposium represented the first step in the compiling of a Namibian Carnivore Red Data Book. Coordinated by the Large Carnivore Association of Namibia (LCMAN), the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) and the Namibian Chamber of Environment (NCE), the symposium was facilitated by Dr. Chris Brown, CEO of the NCE and sponsored by B2Gold.
Over 20 people were in attendance at the Symposium and presentations were given on each of the 34 carnivore species that occur in Namibia. In addition to MET and NCE, the Symposium was attended by representatives from the University of Namibia (UNAM), LCMAN member organizations including Namibian nongovernmental organisations and carnivore researchers, environmental scientists, farmers, and private individuals demonstrated the wide breadth of knowledge concerning the distribution of Namibia’s carnivores, as well as highlighted research gaps. Additional anthropogenic threats, information on species ranges, population trends, data sources, and conservation actions were discussed.
“This is the first time that this type of process has been conducted for Namibia’s carnivores” according to Dr. Laurie Marker, LCMAN Chair. “It was a very important process to undertake, as carnivore ranges continue to shift and change with the interactions of humans’ land use and other aspects of wildlife management in the country.”
Species leads and team members were identified and agreed upon among attendants, who will share data between themselves to create historical, past, and current distribution maps and compile species accounts for the Namibian Carnivore Red Data Book. Distribution maps of the 34 species on Namibian carnivores, ranging from 9 species of mongoose, 2 otter species, 3 species of genets, and a variety of the large and smaller carnivores will be compiled from expert data and knowledge by Alice Jarvis from JARO Consultancy, who manages the countries web-based Environmental Information service (EIS). The book will be compiled by the various species’ teams, edited by John Pallett, and is slated to be completed by August 2018.
“Bringing all the carnivore specialists and relevant organisations together to assess the conservation status of carnivores in Namibia, to identify threats and to develop a carnivore conservation action plan that considers relevant socio-economic issues is an important step in preparing integrated, cost effective management, research and monitoring approaches for carnivores in Namibia” said Dr Chris Brown. “This must lead on to ever closer collaboration between all the individuals and organisations, as good scientifically-based management is vital in the face of emotive armchair conservationists on social media.
OTJIWARONGO, NAMIBIA (Nov. 27, 2017) — Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) will lead the 7th annual celebration of International Cheetah Day with special activities at its Centre in Otjiwarongo this weekend. On both Saturday, 3 December, and Sunday, 4 December (International Cheetah Day), the admission fee is waived for Namibians, presenting the ideal opportunity for families to tour the world-renown facilities and observe cheetah feedings free of charge.
To enhance the experience, CCF will offer a variety of educational and interactive activities beginning at 11 a.m. each day. Information booths will be set up at various places around the Centre displaying tools such as camera traps and satellite collars that CCF Ecologists use in their work, with staff members available to explain their use. Visitors can meet some of CCF’s Livestock Guarding Dogs at another exhibit or learn about the process of predator identification, also known as “Kill I.D.”, at another. There will be a crafts table for children where they can make their own cheetah mask. Cheetah feedings will take place at 1200h both days. The Cheetah Café in the Visitor Centre will offer a variety of special treats to help make the occasion a true holiday.
“International Cheetah Day is a wonderful opportunity to learn about the cheetah and to have some fun with the entire family”, said Dr Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of CCF. “The cheetah is a very special animal — the world’s fastest land mammal – and Namibia is a very special place! We are famous for being the ‘Cheetah Capital of the World.’ On 4 December, we honour this amazing big cat, and we hope you will come here and join us”.
The Cheetah Conservation Fund is located 45 km from the town of Otjiwarongo on the D2440 road. CCF facilities are open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. except 25 December. The Centre hosts community members and school groups from Namibia as well as international tourists and groups from all over the world. For more information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.cheetah.org.
Educational materials, including CCF’s Conservation Passport, Activity Packet, cheetah photos, videos and social media links can be downloaded for free at www.cheetah.org/international-cheetah-day/ or www.internationalcheetahday.org
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.”
Cheetah Conservation Fund Hosts Girl Scouts and Girl Guides for Second Half of “Voice of the Cheetah” Dual-Nation Immersive Cheetah Conservation Experience
OTJIWARONGO, Namibia (8 August 2017) – Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) welcomed a contingency of 11 young women from the Girl Scouts of the United States and three Girl Guides from South Africa at its Centre last week. Enrolled in grades 9 through 12, the young learners were brought together by a deep interest in learning about cheetah conservation, protection and advocacy. The visit was the second half of a two-part, two-nation, immersive conservation learning experience, “Voice of the Cheetah”, that began in Washington, D.C. last year.
At CCF Namibia, the group spent three days and three nights taking part in conservation activities, beginning with tours of CCF’s Cheetah Museum and Education Centre. CCF staff introduced the group to its conservation initiatives, including the Livestock Guarding Dog Programme and Model Farm operations. Staff scientists explained cheetah genetic challenges at its Applied Biosystems Conservation Genetics Laboratory, and the group also visited CCF’s veterinary clinic for a presentation on cheetah health. On their third day, they were treated to a Scat Dog demonstration and two safari drives. Over the course of their time at CCF, the girls took part in nature hikes, cheetah feeding and exercise activities, and learnt how CCF scientists use satellite radio collars, camera traps, and other technology as tools in their ecology research.
In June 2016, the same group spent six days in the US. Capital, where they spent time and meeting with experts in fundraising, biology, conservation and politics. Their itinerary included educational visits to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, The National Zoo, and CCF fundraising headquarters. They also visited with legislators on Capitol Hill as an introduction to the subject of advocacy.
At the culmination of the 31 July – 3 August stay at CCF, the Girl Scout group made Dr Laurie Marker and Honorary Lifetime Member of the Girls Scouts, presenting her with a pin to denote this status.
“It has been a true pleasure to work with this group of thoughtful, intelligent and fully-engaged young learners over the past two years”, said Dr Laurie Marker. “This two-nation learning experience was a first-of-its-kind experience for both the Girl Scouts and myself, and I think it was very successful. Most exciting for me, among these girls are our next generation of educators, scientists, conservationists and political leaders. They represent the cheetah’s best hope for a long-term future on this planet”.
In all, the group spent 10 days in Namibia, visiting Cape Cross on the Skeleton Coast, the Namib-Naukluft National Park, and Etosha National Park in addition to CCF. The group was led by Lesley Robinson, Vice President of Girl Leadership Experience, Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina, and the trip was sponsored by the Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina.
OTJIWARONGO, Namibia (18 July 2017) – Earlier this month, Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) opened the doors for guests to its new, five-bedroom Cheetah View Lodge at its Field Research & Education Centre in Otjiwarongo, Namibia. Situated on CCF’s breath-taking, 46,000-hectare private game reserve at the base of Waterberg Plateau National Park, the lodge was built to accommodate international visitors wishing to spend more time learning about CCF’s conservation work. Cheetah View Lodge is aimed at the mid-priced tourist market and joins CCF’s existing luxury accommodation, Babson Guest House, as an option for overnight visitors.
“A key component of our mission is to educate people about the conservation work we do. In opening Cheetah View Lodge, more guests can stay with us longer and immerse themselves in all we do to save the cheetah”, said Dr Marker. “Our holistic approach to conservation is intriguing for visitors, and our many programmes offer much for them to learn”.
CCF administers a wide range of projects, including a livestock guarding dog programme that breeds, trains and places dogs with Namibian farmers; a training course that teaches best agricultural techniques to rural farming communities, Future Farmers of Africa; and a school outreach programme that educates young learners about Namibian wildlife. CCF also operates a world-renowned genetics lab that collaborates with researchers working on many African species and shares its data internationally, has a thriving ecology department that conducts regular game counts, and a biomass technology plant that produces a clean-burning biomass fuel log from sustainably harvested, excess thorn bush.
“CCF welcomes more than 10,000 tourists each year as day visitors, and they have long expressed an interest in learning about the programme work of CCF. Opening Cheetah View enables visitors to spend more time with us, to witness conservation in action, and our hope is they will spread the word internationally”, said Dr Marker.
The new lodge, which was dedicated by CCF’s Royal Patron HRH Princess Michael of Kent in April, is built in a modern chalet style and offers spectacular views of the Waterberg Plateau. The lodge offers visitors the opportunity to book cheetah conservation activities, game drives and escorted bush walks, as well as access to CCF conservation projects.
Cheetah View Lodge is now open and is located a five-minute walk from CCF’s main campus. In addition to the five suites, Cheetah View includes a private dining room that overlooks a scenic water hole where guests can observe a variety of wildlife. Introductory rates start from $1270 NAD per person, per night, on a half-board basis (Breakfast and Dinner).
Tel: +264 (0) 67 306225
OTJIWARONGO, Namibia (9 July 2017) – For the 19th consecutive year, Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) celebrated the Speed and Elegance of the cheetah with fellow Namibians at its annual Gala Dinner at the Windhoek Country Club on the 7th of July. Jackie Asheeke, a leading Namibian tourism industry expert and highly regarded social commentator known for her lively personality, served asthe evening’s Mistress of Ceremonies.
The honoured guest speaker was Dr Rogério Cunha de Paula from São Paulo, Brazil, who spoke about his work designing strategies to improve the status of endangered species and reduce conflicts between carnivores and humans in his home country. Dr Cunha de Paula is a biologist and an environmental analyst for the National Research Center for Carnivores Conservation (CENAP) within the Instituto Chico Mendes for the Conservation of Biodiversity, an agency of the Brazilian Environmental Ministry (ICMBio/MMA).
The CCF Gala, a highly-anticipated annual event in Namibian conservation circles, celebrates the cheetah and highlights the strides CCF has made to ensure survival of the cheetah in the wild for future generations. The evening included a candlelight dinner and conservation awards ceremony, bringing together more than 280 guests from the business, conservation, agriculture and government sectors in Namibia and beyond national borders. The silent auction was again a huge success, offering guest more than 120 opportunities to bod on items donated by local and international businesses. The auction items included artwork, jewellery, Namibian craftwork and tourism ‘get-aways’ at exclusive Namibian and international destinations, including stays at the NamibRand Reserve, the Swakopmund Hotel, and CCF’s exclusive Babson Guest House, to name a few.
CCF Founder and Executive Director, Dr Laurie Marker gave a presentation titled “The 2017 State of the Cheetah”, emphasising the need to conserve Namibia’s treasures and foster an economic system where humans can live with wildlife in the natural scope of a healthy, intact and bio-diverse landscape. Dr Marker also presented three 2017 Cheetah Conservation Awards on behalf of the CCF Namibia Board of Directors, recognising those who have made outstanding contributions to conserve the cheetah and the Namibian environment.
The 2017 Cheetah Conservation Fund Sponsorship Recognition Award was given to the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey and the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), for their support of CCF’s Livestock Guarding Dog Programme. The award was accepted by H.E. Mrs. Deniz Cakar, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey, and Mr. Abdulkadir Abukan, TIKA Namibia Deputy Coordinator.
The 2017 Cheetah Conservation Fund Farmer of the Year was presented to Hendriette Nderura Rukero, for her care and dedication to her livestock guarding dog.
2017 Cheetah Conservation Fund Farm of the Year, Farm Krumhuk. CCF has known and worked closely with Ulf-Dieter Voights and his family since 1991. Farm Krumhuk has been a part of Auas Oanob Conservancy since its inception and an active member of the Conservancy Association of Namibia since 1999. Farm Krumhuk is exemplary for embracing integrated methods for livestock and wildlife farming and being a leader in conservation efforts in Namibia.
Details about each of the award winners follows the Editor’s Notes. Photos and interviews are available by request.
OTJIWARONGO, Namibia (30 June 2017) – For the 19th consecutive year, Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) will celebrate the speed and elegance of the cheetah with fellow Namibians at its annual Gala Dinner at the Windhoek Country Club on the 7th of July. Jackie Asheeke, a leading Namibian tourism industry expert and highly regarded social commentator known for her lively personality, will take on hosting duties as the evening’s Mistress of Ceremonies. The honoured guest speaker will be Dr Rogério Cunha de Paula a biologist from São Paulo, Brazil, a long-time associate and good friend of CCF’s Founder and Executive Director, Dr Laurie Marker.
Dr Cunha de Paula is an environmental analyst for the National Research Center for Carnivores Conservation (CENAP) within the Instituto Chico Mendes for the Conservation of Biodiversity, an agency of the Brazilian Environmental Ministry (ICMBio/MMA). He is responsible for designing strategies to improve the status of endangered species and reduce conflicts between carnivores and humans in his country. Dr Cunha de Paula is also part of both national and international committees for carnivore conservation and like Dr Marker, a member of the Cat and Canid Specialist Groups within the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature). His expertise lies in techniques for surveys and population sampling and the creation of species management plans. As wildlife manager, he dedicates time to learning and executing actions related to human-predator conflict mediation. Over the past 20 years in Brazil, Dr Cunha de Paula has changed people’s perception towards carnivore species, including the jaguar, puma and maned wolf, so they are not removed from ecosystems due to human intolerance.
“I am very excited to have Dr Cunha de Paula speak at this year’s gala”, said Dr Laurie Marker. “What humans living with carnivores face in Brazil is similar to what people and cheetahs experience in Namibia. It will be very inspiring to hear how these challenges are addressed in another part of the world. We certainly can learn from each other”.
Guests at the gala will enjoy a three-course dinner followed by an awards ceremony recognising those who have helped conserve the cheetah and the Namibian environment. Dr Marker will present four Cheetah Conservation Awards on behalf of the CCF Board of Directors: 2017 Cheetah Conservationist of the Year; 2017 Cheetah Conservation Farmer of the Year;
2017 Cheetah Conservation Educator of the Year Award; and Cheetah Conservation Fund’s 2017 Special Loyalty Award. Guests can also bid on a number of wonderful items during the silent auction, ranging from works of fine art to travel experiences.
Tickets for the gala are still available. Individual tickets are N$650 and a table of 10 is N$6,500. Tickets include a pre-dinner drink, three-course meal, speaker’s presentation, awards ceremony, silent auction and one complimentary admission for a guided tour of the CCF Centre. Tickets can be purchased by contacting Heike Stackman at 067-304806 or email@example.com.
The cheetah is currently listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Vulnerable status means that the cheetah is on its way to becoming Endangered unless the factors that threaten its survival and reproduction are stopped. Cheetah Conservation Fund has stabilized the cheetah population in Namibia but across its range populations are still on the decline. There are currently less than 8,000 cheetahs left in the wild. Now is the time for action and we need your help.
The outlook for the cheetah may seem bleak but vulnerable status also means there's still hope for survival. We have not yet passed the point of no return, meaning there are still enough animals remaining in the wild to turn the population around. We can help make the necessary changes to increase usable habitat, stop human/wildlife conflict and help educate the future conservationists of Africa who will one day take over CCF’s important mission. Today on Endangered Species Day, please make a donation to CCF so that we can continue our work toward saving the cheetah in the wild.
Washington, D.C. (May 19, 2017) — Dr. Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) and author of multiple publications on the cheetah, has written her first children’s book, Chewbaaka – My Life at the Cheetah Conservation Fund. The 32-page, soft-cover book is written from the perspective of Chewbaaka, CCF’s longtime ambassador cheetah that Dr. Marker raised from a 10-day-old orphan that arrived at CCF’s research center in 1995. The book features 25 original, full color illustrations by up-and-coming zoological illustrator Jessie Jordan that pair with Dr. Marker’s narrative, which targets readers age eight and older.
“Engaging young learners about conservation is a key strategy in our CCF mission to save the cheetah from extinction. During international speaking tours and hundreds of presentations at schools in my 27 years leading CCF, I have met thousands of children who are fascinated with big cats, especially the cheetah. Telling the story of my best cheetah friend in Chewbaaka with these beautiful illustrations enables me to connect to so many young audiences,” said Dr. Marker. “Chewbaaka was a very special cheetah that touched my life and many others, and Jessie’s work captures his true spirit.”
Jordan’s watercolor illustrations and Dr. Marker’s text tell Chewbaaka’s life story, from the loss of his siblings to interactions with humans and his canine companion, Koya, an Anatolian shepherd. At CCF, Chewbaaka represented his species to more than 100,000 CCF visitors in his 16-year lifetime, and he appeared in countless documentaries and television shows viewed in many countries around the world. Chewbaaka helped humans gain a better understanding of the ecological importance of the cheetah, and he also helped change Namibian farmers’ perception of cheetahs, encouraging them to peacefully coexist with cheetahs and other predators. One of the most famous animal ambassadors that ever lived, Chewbaaka’s portrait hangs today at National Geographic’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Jordan first learned of Dr. Marker’s work and Chewbaaka from informational signage included in the Dallas Zoo’s cheetah exhibit. The pair corresponded by email, then met in 2014 at a lecture Dr. Marker gave at the Museum of Natural History in Pacific Grove, California.
“The way she told her story about saving cheetahs and how all the different branches of conservation work are connected completely captivated me. At the end of her talk I asked her if she had a job for me, and she said she was looking for someone to illustrate a children’s book — a true story about an orphaned cheetah cub named Chewbaaka,” said Jordan.
Dr. Marker and Jordan began working together online a few days after meeting, and in 2015 Jordan raised enough money to travel to CCF’s Center in Otjiwarongo, Namibia. Jordan immediately began visualizing the project by looking at Marker’s photo archive to get a sense of Chewbaaka’s life and by walking the CCF grounds.
“I painted in the bush for four weeks. It was an amazing experience,” added Jordan.
Chewbaaka – My Life at the Cheetah Conservation Fund is available online at CCF’s website www.cheetah.org and at Amazon.com. The price of the book with contiguous U.S. shipping is $21.95, and $28.95 for shipments to Hawaii, Alaska and international destinations. Forty percent of proceeds directly support CCF’s conservation and education programs to save the wild cheetah.
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