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Zoo Logic

Mar 14, 2019

For 45 years, Dr. Laurie Marker has dedicated her life to saving cheetahs, the fastest land mammal on earth. A species of cat like no other, cheetahs face mounting pressures from conflicts with farmers, habitat loss and fragmentation, local and species-wide genetic bottlenecks, and the illegal pet trade. Her love and fascination with the species led Dr. Marker to move to Namibia where in 1990 she established the headquarters for the Cheetah Conservation Fund organization ( Dr. Marker serves as an advisor for several national and international zoological and conservation organizations; is the recipient of many awards recognizing her contributions to science, conservation, and education; and has authored or contributed to a long list of academic publications.

From the CCF website:

Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) is the global leader in research and conservation of cheetahs. CCF is dedicated to saving the cheetah in the wild. CCF’s mission is to be the internationally recognized center of excellence in the conservation of cheetahs and their ecosystems. CCF will work with all stakeholders to develop best practices in research, education, and land use to benefit all species, including people.

The vast majority of wild cheetahs are outside protected areas, in areas populated by humans. Saving this magnificent animal from extinction requires innovative conservation methods that address the welfare of both cheetah and human populations over large landscapes. CCF has developed a set of integrated programs that work together to achieve this objective. CCF’s programs have effectively stabilized and even increased the wild cheetah population in Namibia.

CCF has close links and assists in training and sharing program successes with other countries where cheetah live, including Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Iran, Algeria and more recently, Angola. In many of these countries, efforts are currently underway to develop new conservation programs or support existing cheetah conservation efforts. CCF’s international collaborations involve distributing CCF materials, lending resources and support, and providing training through Africa and the rest of the world.

CCF’s conservation programming is rooted in scientific research. CCF maintains a research program on the biology, ecology and genetics of cheetahs that publishes papers in peer-reviewed journals annually, and currently operates the only fully-equipped genetics lab at an in-situ conservation facility in Africa.

CCF’s renowned Livestock Guarding Dog Program has been highly effective at reducing predation rates and thereby reducing the inclination by farmers to trap or shoot cheetahs. CCF breeds Anatolian shepherd and Kangal dogs, breeds that for millennia have guarded small livestock against wolves and bears in Turkey. The dogs are placed with Namibian farmers as puppies. They bond with the herd and use their imposing presence and loud bark to scare away potential predators. CCF has been placing dogs since 1994 and our research shows the dogs are highly effective, reducing livestock loss from all predators by over 80 and up to 100 percent.

According to Dr. Marker, "the Cheetah Conservation Fund is many things. We are a world class research facility doing groundbreaking research in the biology, ecology and genetics of the cheetah. We’re a conservation organization working to combat the problems that afflict the human communities that live alongside cheetahs and threaten the cheetah as a species with extinction. We’re a place that visitors may come to learn about the cheetah and experience its magnificence and grace more closely."

"But we do all that we do for a single purpose – to win the race to save the cheetah. We’ve lost 90 percent of the world’s population of cheetahs in the last 100 years. And we know that if we’re going to have cheetahs around for the next 100 years, we need to act now to address the threats to the cheetah’s survival."

Plus, an all new That Sounds Wild and a Zoos News legislative update from Rachel Garner from