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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
(Washington, DC – April 24, 2017) Nine cheetah cubs and one sub-adult were confiscated from illegal wildlife traders by the Somaliland Ministry of Environment and Rural Development (MoERD) with assistance from Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in El Sheik and Wajel, respectively, on 19 April.
The cubs were destined for the Arabian Peninsula where the illegal market for pet cheetahs is estimated at 300 animals per year. The three youngest cubs were found in extremely poor health, and every effort is being made to save them.
In a separate incident on the same day, CCF learned that three older cheetahs had reportedly escaped from a trafficker in the Wajale area bordering Ethiopia and entered the town. Two of the animals were captured by the police while the third was still loose. With support from the Minister of Environment and Rural Development, who approved a confiscation, CCF recovered one of the cheetahs and is in negotiations to recover the second. A search for the third one is underway.
CCF has partnered with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to ensure the cubs are given urgent medical care, food and appropriate emergency housing. CCF and IFAW began collaborating on the issue of illegal cheetah trade in 2014 in the context of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
“CCF needed critical supplies if the cubs were to survive and IFAW was pleased to offer immediate assistance. Wild cheetah populations are in dire trouble, largely due to demand for cubs as exotic pets. The cruelty of live animal trade is shocking and we are doing all we can to save these cubs,” said Gail A’Brunzo, IFAW’s Wildlife Rescue Manager.
The Somaliland MoERD showed great leadership in acting swiftly against these cheetah traffickers. CCF and IFAW are engaged in discussions with the Ministry on how to provide long-term care for the confiscated cheetahs, which cannot be transferred to sanctuaries in nearby countries as current laws do not allow for confiscated animals to be transported across borders.
“With a total population of just over 7,000 cheetahs remaining in the wild, the taking of even one cub is a threat to species’ survival. This is particularly concerning as trafficked cubs are usually removed from their mothers at very young ages — less than 3 months — which means that they have not had enough time to learn skills necessary to survive in the wild and will in most cases require life-long care,” said Dr. Laurie Marker, CCF’s Founder and Executive Director. “We are exceptionally pleased to be partnering with IFAW moving forward to address this important issue.”
“Through this week’s confiscations, the Somaliland authorities are sending a clear message to traffickers that the trade in live cheetahs will not be tolerated,” added Patricia Tricorache, CCF’s Assistant Director for Strategic Communications and Illegal Wildlife Trade.
Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent Joins Fight to Save Wild Cheetahs as Cheetah Conservation Fund’s First Royal Patron
OTJIWARONGO, NAMIBIA (6 April 2017) – Cheetah Conservation Fund’s (CCF) mission to save the world’s dwindling wild cheetah population has been energised by the addition of Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent as the organisation’s first-ever Royal Patron. Inspired by her long-time interest in cheetahs and an introduction by CCF UK Patrons Jonathan and Angela Scott, HRH Princess Michael of Kent travelled to the “Cheetah Capital of the World” in March at the invitation of CCF’s Founder and Executive Director, Dr Laurie Marker. HRH Princess Michael of Kent visited CCF’s research base near Otjiwarongo, Namibia, where she endeavoured to build a foundation of knowledge about the species’ plight and determine ways she could help.
“HRH Princess Michael of Kent and I share a common interest in the cheetah. She raised an orphan cub as a teenager in Mozambique, and she has carried that experience forward in life”, said Dr Laurie Marker. “During her week at CCF, our staff presented information about our programmes to conserve the species, from livestock guarding dogs, genetics, habitat restoration and cheetah reintroductions, to our education initiatives”..
HRH Princess Michael of Kent toured CCF’s Field Research and Education Centre over the course of five days to familiarise herself with CCF’s Model Farm, veterinary clinic, conservation genetics laboratory and Biomass Technology Demonstration Centre. She met with staff administering CCF’s Future Farmers of Africa and Livestock Guarding Dog Programmes and accompanied CCF scientists to Erindi Private Game Reserve to observe the release of three cheetahs back into the wild. HRH Princess Michael also helped dedicate CCF’s new Cheetah View Lodge, a five-suite accommodation for overnight guests set to open this June. Following the tour, Dr Marker escorted HRH Princess Michael of Kent to Windhoek to facilitate introductions and strategize with CCF Namibia Board members and the Honourable Professor Peter Katjavivi, CCF’s International Patron and Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia.
HRH Princess Michael of Kent has long been associated with the feline icon of speed and grace. During the 1960’s she raised a cheetah from a cub, chronicling that experience in a book she authored about her African travel experiences to be published in September, A Cheetah’s Tale. She met Dr Marker at a CCF event in the UK in 2016 and expressed her desire to support in cheetah conservation efforts in Namibia. HRH Princess Michael has been active in wildlife conservation throughout her life, and for the past 20 years, she has been a Royal Patron for the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre in South Africa.
“We are deeply honoured to welcome Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent to Namibia and are thrilled to have her support as CCF’s Royal Patron”, said Dr Marker. “The more people who learn about the cheetah’s problems, the greater the chance we have of saving the species. HRH Princess Michael of Kent represents a brilliant beacon of hope not only for the cheetah, but for the people who live with the species, in Namibia and throughout its African range”.
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.