Dr. Anne Schmidt-Küntzel and myself joined Program Leaders from the Range Wide Conservation Program for Cheetah and African Wild Dogs (RWCP), a joint program of the Zoological Society of London and WIldlife Conservation Society who along with representatives from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Saving Animals from Extinction (SAFE); who sponsored and co-organized the four day workshop outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. In attendance was the co-chair of the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN) Cat Specialist Group, and 40 conservation specialists in cheetah and wild dogs from seven national governments and 19 other NGOs, as well as representatives from the AZA’s Cheetah Species Survival Plan (SSP) Cheetah and, Felid TAG groups.
The objective of the workshop was to provide current information to update the cheetah and wild dog regional strategy which was developed in 2007 and to develop a three-year SAFE Cheetah Conservation Action Plan.
Through a variety of presentations and discussions covering topics that included human wildlife conflict, the reduction of the ranges of each of these species, and ongoing research by the various NGO’s to reduce these threats to the cheetah and wild dog. The various country groups shared ideas on how to address these threats. Dr. Schmidt-Küntzel and I gave a presentation that covered successful strategies employed by CCF impacting the region, including education, livestock guarding dogs, the production of Bushblok, and training of both rural residents and the next generation of conservationists, biologists and geneticists.
After the 2007 range wide strategy meeting, CCF was tasked to train several hundred government and NGO conservation biologists from 15 different cheetah range countries and many of them were at the meeting from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. This has been one of our biggest contributions to range-wide strategic development, and of this we can all be very proud.
Following the meeting, a small group from the workshop came back with me to CCF and stayed for the weekend. This was a great opportunity to strengthen our relationship and give them insight to the work we do here in Namibia.