FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Dr. Laurie Marker, Cheetah@iway.na
(+264) (0)67 306225 or (+264) (0)811247887 in Namibia or
Susan Yanetti, email@example.com, (202) 716-7756 in the USA
Cheetah Conservation Fund Celebrates 25th Anniversary and Announces Plans for Two-Part Cheetah Summit in 2015
OTJIWARONGO, Namibia (17 March, 2015) – Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), the longest-running cheetah conservation program in existence, marks its 25th anniversary in July. Dr. Laurie Marker, CCF Founder and Executive Director, today announced plans to hold the first of a two-part Cheetah Summit for Long-term Strategic Planning 18-20 July at CCF’s field headquarters in Otjiwarongo to commemorate this milestone achievement. The summit is themed Changing the World to Save the Cheetah, which also serves as the theme for all CCF anniversary celebration activities taking place throughout the calendar year, including the organisation’s 25th Anniversary Gala to be held 17 July in Windhoek.
“We are very excited about the Cheetah Summit, which will examine the complex web of social, economic and environmental problems surrounding the cheetah conservation crisis”, said Dr. Marker. “The human population in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to double by 2050, which will dramatically increase demands on the food supply. This, together with the effects of global climate change, will place additional pressure on the land and exacerbate human-wildlife conflict, which together with habitat loss, are the greatest threats to cheetah survival. We need to put into place a tactical response plan now if the cheetah is to have hope for a future”.
Cheetahs are Africa’s most endangered big cats, with only an estimated 10,000 remaining in the wild. CCF Board Members and Trustees from the U.S. and Namibia and delegates from CCF’s international affiliates and collaborative organizations in the UK, Canada, Belgium, Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and France, will meet in Otjiwarongo in July to take part in the first meeting. The second session will be held in Washington, D.C. later this year and will bring together some of the best minds in science, ecology and conservation biology with representatives from zoos and academic institutions, government officials and international business executives to develop the response plan.
Launched in 1990 in a borrowed farmhouse as a non-profit foundation with the goal of working with local communities on whose land the cheetah lives, and developing solutions to live with cheetahs, CCF has grown into a world-class research, education and conservation institution that now serves as a model for predator conservation programmes everywhere. Under the leadership of Dr. Marker, CCF has become a driving force in conservation, recognized for applying a science-based, holistic approach that carefully balances the needs of both people and wildlife sharing the same ecosystems.
CCF has made significant impact on the cheetah conservation crisis over the past 25 years, including:
- Mitigating human-wildlife conflict in Namibia, the country with the greatest number of the world’s remaining wild cheetah, by introducing successful non-lethal predator control methods that helped stop farmers from shooting and killing cheetahs on sight. This, together with CCF’s applied conservation programmes, have stabilised the wild cheetah population, taking it from approximately 2,500 in 1990 to more than 3,500 today;
- Filling a void in science with first-of-its-kind, field research encompassing cheetah biology, health, reproduction, genetics, demographics and species behaviour, along with habitat, ecosystem and human impact;
- Helping launch collaborative cheetah conservation organisations in Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Iran, and providing expertise to governments in historical cheetah-range countries seeking to re-establish populations, including India, Algeria, Angola and Uzbekistan;
- Training more than 3,500 rural Namibian men and women in agriculture and land management techniques through its Future Farmers of Africa Programme, to enhance livelihoods and increase understanding of basic conservation principles;
- Introducing the concept of livestock guarding dogs to Africa; breeding and placing more than 600 Kangal and Anatolian Shepherd Dogs with Namibian farmers; and helping launch similar programmes in Botswana, South Africa and Tanzania;
- Impacting more than 350,000 young learners in Namibia, and many thousands of international students through CCF education and outreach programmes;
- Building and maintaining the only fully capable genetics laboratory located at a field conservation site in Africa. Used primarily to analyze scat, blood and tissue samples from cheetah, the facilities also serve scientists studying the African lion, brown hyena, cape buffalo, rhino and other endangered species;
- Training more than 300 African biologists representing 15 cheetah-range countries including Namibia, South Sudan, Mozambique, Zambia, Algeria, Niger, Benin, Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, South Africa, Ethiopia and others in efforts to make species conservation efforts on the continent sustainable over the long term;
- Restoring thousands of hectares of wildlife habitat and farmlands in Namibia and developing an award-winning, biomass fuel product, Bushblok;
- Creating jobs, driving the eco-tourism industry and generating an estimated U.S. $4 million annual impact on the Namibian economy; and
Changing the cultural attitude of an entire nation towards its wildlife by demonstrating its economic value. Namibians who once viewed cheetah as worthless vermin now proudly declare their country to be “The Cheetah Capital of the World”.
“I would like to extend an open invitation to any person interested in seeing the cheetah in its natural habitat to visit us in Namibia”, said Dr. Marker. “By witnessing the work we do and sharing it with your friends and families, you will play a vital role in saving the cheetah”.
CCF facilities are open to the public every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. except 25 December.