I have had the pleasure of watching Namibia develop over these past 25 years, beginning as a newly formed government emerging from the shadows of apartheid. I met its Founding Father, His Excellency Dr. Sam Nujoma, in 1990 at a press conference in Washington, D.C., where he was visiting along with several Ministers representing the new government. I was eager to meet him, as I had traveled to Namibia many times to study the cheetah and also knew of Dr. Nujoma’s difficult struggle to attain freedom for the people. I congratulated him for the country’s new constitution, the first in the world to incorporate sustainability of wildlife and protection of the environment as important components. I remember telling him that Namibia was the “cheetah capital of the world,” and the country would be a main role player in saving this species for future generations. I gave him a silver cheetah pin and told him about our foundation, Cheetah Conservation Fund, and my plans to move to Otjiwarongo and help save the cheetah! Dr. Nujoma invited me to come see him once I settled in Namibia, which I did a few months later. At this next meeting I asked him to become CCF’s International Patron, which he did. He carried this title for 25 years.
In 1997, CCF gave Dr. Nujoma one of our Livestock Guarding Dogs, as a loyal companion and a symbol of the non-lethal predator control strategies that have successfully mitigated the conflict between humans and cheetahs in Namibia. In 1999, we were honored to have Dr. Nujoma attend CCF’ first Namibian Gala, entitled A Celebration of Speed and Elegance. In 2000, he was present for CCF’s 10th Anniversary celebration and the dedication of CCF’s Research and Education Centers, two very impressive achievements for Namibia. I still smile when I remember how proud my parents, Ralph and Marline Bushey, were when Dr. Nujoma thanked them for giving me to Namibia.
Our long partnership with Namibia has brought immeasurable benefits. Because of supporters such as you, CCF has been able to train more than 3,500 agricultural workers and touch more than 350,000 young learners through education and outreach programs. CCF also continues to explore Namibia’s biomass potential, with the harvest of thornbush and production of Bushblok eco-fuel logs, which have received many awards and highlights CCF’s and Namibia’s capabilities internationally. In 2000, Dr. Nujoma directed his government to send 10 cheetahs to the United States to foster diversity among the important captive population. These animals – orphans from CCF’s cheetah sanctuary – have been extremely important in bolstering the genetic health of the global cheetah population and have expanded partnerships with the various zoological institutions that support CCF.
Because of the close partnership between Namibia and CCF, the cheetah population here has stabilized and has even increased where today, Namibia is home to about a third of the world’s 10,000 remaining cheetahs. The Namibian people are so proud of this fact that in 2003, Otjiwarongo, the home district of CCF, was declared to be the “Cheetah Capital of the World.”
If you have visited Namibia, then you are familiar with its warm and friendly people and the beautiful, sweeping landscapes rich with wild flora and fauna. You may have been lucky enough to have seen the cheetah in its natural habitat and feel a connection with this beautiful creature. If you have not made the journey, then I urge you to do so this year. It promises to be a joyful occasion and the perfect way to honor CCF, Namibia and the cheetah.
Please consider contributing to CCF to help ensure the future for the cheetah. I am proud to be an American, but I am also equally proud to be a Namibian.
As Founder of CCF on behalf of this amazing species, please help celebrate our 25th anniversaries by donating to CCF today.
Thank you to all of our cheetah coalition members for 25 years of support!
Cheetah purrs to all,