By Dr. Vishva Dixit, Manjul Dixit, Nisha Dixit
Our family loves animals. We have a long and deep connection with Africa — Vishva is originally from Kenya — and we’ve been taking annual safari trips on the continent for the past decade with our daughter, Nisha (pictured to the left with Dr. Marker’s Assistant Teresia). We support many African causes, but Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) and its mission to save the wild cheetah has recently become very special in our hearts. This year, we traveled to Kenya and Namibia. We feel so fortunate to have personally toured CCF’s Centre and witnessed conservation in action – it truly was the experience of a lifetime! And, we are very pleased to know our choices in travel are helping save a species.
Please help the cheetah outrun extinction by making a generous donation to CCF today. If you are able, please visit CCF’s Field Research and Education Centre in Otjiwarongo, Namibia. All proceeds from CCF tourism support cheetah conservation programs.
Our history with CCF does not go that far back in time. In the spring of 2016, we met Dr. Laurie Marker, CCF’s Founder and Executive Director, when she was giving a talk at Stanford University. We were distressed to learn about the cheetah’s plight, but we were fascinated to learn about CCF’s highly successful and holistic conservation strategies. We also were moved by Dr. Marker’s passion and the belief that humans can alter the course for this amazing big cat. By joining together, we can create a place for cheetahs on Earth and guarantee their future. After inviting Dr. Marker to our home for a meeting to determine how we can best help, we realized we were on board for the long haul and would do whatever possible.
In October of 2016, we hosted our first fundraising event, a gathering at our house designed to get our friends involved, “Wine and Cheetah.” Dr. Marker was the guest speaker, and she gave an inspirational presentation about the threats the cheetah faces and how they are being addressed. She interacted with our guests, answered questions, autographed books and sparked so much interest, we raised close to $8,000!
After this experience, it seemed like the decision to visit CCF in 2017 was a natural choice. With the opening of CCF’s Cheetah View Lodge, we had yet another option for overnight accommodations and meals at CCF, which made the planning of the trip much easier. Nisha had always wanted to volunteer in another country, so she decided to go a few weeks ahead and volunteer at CCF as a working guest. Nisha met with Dr. Bruce Brewer, CCF’ General Manager, who assigned her to help with the care of CCF’s Livestock Guarding Dogs and resident cheetahs in the CCF sanctuary. Nisha helped feed the animals and clean their pens, and she also exercised the dogs and had the opportunity to assist CCF researchers in setting up camera traps out in the reserve.
When we arrived at CCF, we were immediately impressed by the modern facilities and the quality and dedication of the people who work there. We also quickly learned that our visit would not be a passive experience, either. Nisha was so happy to lead us around and show us what she had been doing at the Centre. We were fascinated by CCF’s work in animal husbandry, its programs for farmers to improve livelihoods and the organization’s incredible habitat restoration project. Talk about a complete cheetah conservation effort! We also truly enjoyed observing the resident cheetah’s daily exercise session, the Cheetah Run. Nothing can quite compare with the thrill of seeing the world’s fastest land mammal hit its top speed in front of your eyes.
The thing about our CCF visit we will forever remember is a moment at the end of a normally busy work day, with Nisha, Dr. Marker, and Dr. Brewer in the middle of the wildlife reserve. We were enjoying each other’s company, sipping Sundowners, and having a great conversation. We know from experience that these types of moments are the ones that become lasting memories.
Our visit also re-affirmed our commitment to the species and CCF. We know our gift earlier this year towards completing Cheetah View Lodge, House A, Room 1, is money well spent. If you are planning a trip to Africa to view its iconic wildlife, please visit CCF in Namibia and spend a few days at the Centre. Your tourism supports CCF’s conservation, research and education programs and helps sustain the fight to save the wild cheetah.
Cheetahs desperately need our help, and we give to CCF because we are confident our dollars are being put to best use.
Please make a generous contribution to CCF today, so together we can save this beautiful, iconic big cat for future generations.