Investing in Our Planet: Saving the Cheetah Through Decades of Research and Conservation
- by Dr. Laurie Marker April 20, 2023
Earth Day 2023 and Cheetah Conservation Fund:
Champions for a Healthier Earth
This year, April 22nd marks the 53rd anniversary of Earth Day. Since its inception in 1970, over one billion people from more than 190 countries have united on this day to raise awareness for a sustainable planet. As Earth Day 2023 approaches, the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) is on a mission to engage more people in becoming champions for a healthier Earth. With the theme “Invest in OUR Planet,” CCF encourages everyone to speak up, take conservation action, and contribute to our collective interest in conserving the environment.
Cheetahs: A Symbol of Biodiversity and Conservation
With fewer than 7,500 cheetahs remaining in the wild, Earth Day serves as a crucial reminder that these majestic creatures, like all wildlife, rely on human conservation efforts for their survival. Dr. Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of CCF, emphasizes that having cheetahs means having greater biodiversity and, consequently, healthier landscapes. By recognizing Earth Day, we invest in our planet by inspiring the next generation of conservationists through education and awareness, thereby supporting the cheetah’s ability to avoid extinction.
Years of Research and Investment in Science
The Cheetah Conservation Fund has devoted many years to research and investment in science to save cheetahs in the wild. The recent hosting of the SteamBioAfrica EU project consortium’s bi-annual conference at the CCF Centre in Otjiwarongo is a testament to this commitment. The consortium, comprising organizations from 15 countries, supports habitat restoration and clean energy initiatives. During the conference, attendees witnessed the testing of a new demonstration Biomass Processing Unit (BPU), designed to provide technical and economic evidence for larger commercial biomass operations. By harvesting excess bush in encroached areas and practicing sustainable land management, CCF believes that we can foster healthier environments for livestock, wildlife, cheetahs, and rural communities alike.
Improvements through Research Investments
Investing in Women
CCF recognizes the importance of gender equilibrium in conservation, as it positively influences conservation outcomes. The organization invests in women by offering volunteer and internship opportunities, employing women in cheetah care and other roles, promoting local artisans’ crafts, and educating future farmers and future conservationists through community and school programs.
Investing in the Horn of Africa
With the confirmed presence of cheetahs in the Horn of Africa and its significance in the illegal cheetah cub trade, CCF invests in the region by working with local communities, researching cheetah distribution, partnering with the Somaliland Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to develop a national park, establishing the Cheetah Rescue and Conservation Centre, and providing veterinary care.
Investing in Rehabilitation and Release
CCF’s long-term study on successful cheetah release has led to a framework for other scientists and reserve managers. The organization invests in rehabilitation and release by refining its framework, selecting appropriate release candidates, providing post-release support, and encouraging the implementation of their protocol across the cheetah’s range.
Investing in Habitat Restoration
Bush encroachment affects Namibian farmland and wildlife habitats, including cheetahs. CCF invests in habitat restoration by monitoring cheetah populations, removing bush and producing eco-friendly BUSHBLOK®, participating in Namibia’s Conservancy movement, and working to restore natural habitats for the benefit of both wildlife and local communities.
Investing in Our Planet: Strategies for All To Help
CCF is taking action to invest in our planet in every aspect of its work and encourages others to adopt these strategies in their own lives. Two of the many ways to contribute to this effort include:
Plant trees and maintain a sustainable garden:
Trees are one of the most powerful tools in combating the climate crisis. By planting trees and gardens, you contribute to reforestation efforts worldwide and support local populations of butterflies, bees, and other organisms critical to sustained biodiversity in our ecosystems. CCF works with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to plant trees in Somaliland to mitigate landscapes stripped by illegal charcoaling. In Namibia, CCF maintains an organic vegetable garden to supply staff and guests at the Centre with fresh, healthy produce year-round.
Support organizations like CCF: By donating, volunteering, or spreading awareness about organizations such as the Cheetah Conservation Fund, you can make a difference in the fight against the extinction of cheetahs and other endangered species.
Earth Day 2023 is an opportunity for us all to invest in our planet and become champions for a healthier Earth. Happy Earth Day!