On January 29, Dr. Laurie Marker and Dr. Bruce Brewer, CCF’s General Manager, arrived in Strasbourg, France, for the Council of Europe (COE) annual conference and the start of an 18-day speaking and fundraising tour in Europe. Greeted by Elisabeth ‘Betty’ Von Hoenning of CCF Italy and hosted by the City of Strasbourg, the Drs. attended three days of events, including a visit to the Cheetah Gallery of Matto Barfuss, artist and painter, and a reception at the Town Hall in their honor sponsored by the City of Strasbourg. On Jan. 31, Dr. Marker presented before COE, ‘Biodiversity and Ecosystem: A Case Study on the Cheetah in Africa,’ stressing how globalization is making the plight of the cheetah everyone’s fight. Her lecture was followed by a sale of Cheetah items by CCF Italia and a fundraising dinner at the restaurant S’Wacke Hiesel.
After Strasbourg, Dr. Marker and Dr. Brewer traveled to Geneva and Gland for meetings with the CITES Secretariat and IUCN world headquarters to update them on the cheetah and CCF conservation initiatives, including issues around the illegal wildlife trade facing cheetah cubs in the Horn of Africa being trafficked to the pet trade in the Middle East. The following day, the Drs. met with their colleagues and co-chairs of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group in Bern to discuss cheetah status.
In Milan, Drs. Marker and Brewer visited La Torbiera Parco Faunistico, a wildlife park with African species including cheetah, and Dr. Marker lectured at the University of Milan’s veterinary school in a conference on large carnivores. In Brescia, Dr. Marker was interviewed by Italian TV, and in Verona, she presented a lecture at the Museum of Natural Sciences, followed by a sale of CCF Italia items and a fundraising dinner.
From Italy, the Drs. flew to Vienna to meet with Four Paws International, a nonprofit that supports animal welfare causes with expertise in sanctuaries. The meeting focused on animals intercepted from traffickers in the Horn of Africa. The Drs. also visited the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to brief them on the threat of cheetah trafficking.
Next up, the Drs. visited Paris to give a presentation at the veterinary school, Maisons Alfort arranged by Catherine Ebbs-Perin of Amifélins. While in Paris, the Drs. visited UNESCO to meet with Man and the Biosphere and World Heritage-Sustainable Tourism Program officers. Dr. Marker was a guest on the Parisian radio show, Radio Enghien, where she spoke about her life as cheetah champion. Just outside Paris, the Drs. toured Parc des (Félins) Felines, and Dr. Marker lectured for over 125 guests and Amifélins members.
In Brussels, the Drs. were assisted by Evelyne Thonon of CCF Belgium, who made a schedule jam-packed with meetings possible. In the span of one business day, Dr. Marker and Dr. Brewer met with Brussels-based representatives of IFAW, WCS, IUCN, EAZA, EuroGroup for Animals, and the World Customs Organization. The purpose of this challenge was to develop relationships in the city that can lead to strategic partnerships and funding opportunities.
Taking an evening train to Amsterdam, the Drs. were at an early morning meeting with the Netherlands’ office of IUCN and IFAW to brief them on CCF’s key initiatives, followed by a visit with the staff of the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA), at the Artis Zoo. In the afternoon, the Drs. traveled to Tilburg to visit with dear friends Drs. Christine and Sjaak from the Beekse Bergen Safari Park and meet up with CCF Holland supporters for dinner at the Hotel Sint Petrus organized by Simone Eckhardt, CCF’s team leader in The Netherlands. On the way to their next tour stop, the Drs. went to The Hague to see Jan and Hanneke Louwman, longtime supporters and cheetah conservation colleagues.
In Germany, the Drs. were scooped up from the train platform in Bonn by Birgit Braun and Teresia Robitschko (Dr. Marker’s former assistant, many of you will recall) of AGA Artenschutz, CCF’s German partner, and whisked off for a dinner with CCF/AGA supporters at the Dorint Hotel. While in Bonn, the Drs. met with program officers of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) to discuss the new joint CITES-CMS African Carnivores Initiative, and they also met Germany’s federal agency for nature conservation, Bundesamt für Naturschutz (BfN). The Drs. went to Hannover to meet the Serengeti Park Hodenhagen Foundation, and then on to Berlin for meetings with the German Zoo Association and the Director of the Berlin Zoo. They ended the day with a public lecture at Betterplace, Germany’s largest donation platform.
Finally, after visiting 14 cities in 7 countries in just 18 days, the Drs. caught a return flight home from Frankfurt after being met at the airport by another long-time CCF volunteer, Gertrude Dingermann, who brought them a blood analyzing machine, donated by a veterinarian in France!
Next up… the United States Spring Tour!