FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Dr. Laurie Marker (ph: 081-1247887), Dr. Bruce Brewer (ph: 081-1247799) or Heike Stackmann (ph: 081-8197976)
CHEETAH CONSERVATION FUND CELEBRATES SPEED AND ELEGANCE OF NAMIBIA’S CHEETAHS AT 21st ANNUAL FUNDRAISING GALA
OTJIWARONGO, Namibia (14 July 2019) – For the 21st consecutive year, Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) gathered with fellow Namibians to celebrate the world’s fastest big cat at its annual Gala Dinner. This year’s event took place 12 July 2019 at the Windhoek Country Club. Jackie Asheeke, a respected Namibian tourism industry expert and social commentator known for having a lively personality, was the evening’s Mistress of Ceremonies. Namibia’s Minister of Environment & Tourism, Honourable Minister Pohamba Shifeta, delivered the evening’s Keynote Address on the value of conservation and the economy and how the Cheetah Conservation Fund has helped in these areas in order to help save the cheetah. The Honourable Professor Peter Katjavivi, Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia and Chancellor of the Namibia University of Science and Technology and CCF’s International Patron, attended the Gala with his wife, Jane Katjavivi, who serve on the Namibian Board of Trustees for CCF.
This year’s event also marked some additional milestones for CCF, including the 10th anniversary of its Life Sciences Conservation Genetics Laboratory and the 25th anniversary of its highly successful Livestock Guarding Dog Programme. In recognition, Guest Speaker Deon Cillers, a conservation biologist from Cheetah Outreach in South Africa, spoke about his work on farmer/predator conflict mitigation. Deon manages the Cheetah Outreach Livestock Guarding Dog Project that addresses predator conflict issues on South African farmlands, and was launched with the assistance of CCF. During almost three decades of working with the farming community helping to reduce human predator conflict, Deon has established trust and respect working hand-in-hand with farmers in South Africa. (see below for full bio).
The Gala, an annual event in Namibian conservation circles, is a celebration of the cheetah and highlights the efforts CCF has made to ensure the survival of the cheetah in the wild for future generations. The evening included a candlelight dinner and conservation awards ceremony and brought together more than 175 guests from the business, conservation, agriculture and government sectors in Namibia, plus international guests including members of the CCF USA Board of Directors and Trustees. The silent auction once again was a huge success, with items donated by local and international businesses, including artwork, and ‘get-aways’ at exclusive Namibian and international tourism destinations, including stays at the NamibRand Reserve, the Swakopmund Hotel, and the Waterberg Guest House.
CCF Founder and Executive Director, Dr Laurie Marker, presented the 2019 State of the Cheetah Address, underscoring the need to conserve Namibia’s natural resources and foster an economic system in which humans and livestock not only coexist with wildlife, but thrive in a healthy, bio-diverse landscape. Dr Marker presented the 2019 Cheetah Conservation Awards of behalf of the CCF Namibia Board of Directors, recognising those who have helped conserve the cheetah and the Namibian environment.
- 2019 Cheetah Conservationist of the Year was presented to Mary Kruger and Family for her and her family’s years of support for Cheetah Conservation Fund.
- The 2019 Long-standing services to Cheetah Conservation Award was presented to Armas Shaanika, for their care and dedication to CCF’s livestock guarding dog programme.
- The 2019 Cheetah Conservation Programme of the Year Award was given to Cheetah Outreach, for their Livestock Guarding Dog Programme in South Africa.
- The 2019 Long-Term Conservation Achievement Award was given to World Wildlife Fund for Nature, Namibia for their on-going support of community conservancies.
Full biographies for award winners follow the Editor’s Notes.
- The Cheetah Conservation Fund is a Namibian non-profit trust dedicated to the long-term survival of the cheetah and its ecosystems.
- Since 1990, CCF has developed education and conservation programmes based on its biomedical and ecological cheetah research studies, published scientific research papers and has presented educational programmes to over 550 000 outreach school learners and over 12,000 farmers. In addition, CCF has donated over 650 Anatolian livestock guarding dogs to commercial and communal farmers as part of their innovative non-lethal livestock management programme.
- Research into cheetah biology has greatly increased our understanding of the fastest land animal ad education programmes for schools and the farming community helps change public attitudes to allow predator and humans to co-exist. However, despite the many successes of CCF programmes, the cheetah is still Africa’s most endangered cat, with less than 7,500 remaining in the world’s wild population. Namibia harbours about a quarter of the world’s remaining cheetah.
- CCF has hosted several hundred wildlife biologists, conservationists and extension agents from throughout the cheetah’s range, teaching them about how to resolve human/wildlife conflict in their own countries. CCF’s motto, “We Can Live Together” is an important part of their philosophy which they teach to several thousand school learners each year from throughout Namibia.
- CCF works in the Eastern Communal area to assist local communities in reducing human wildlife conflict with predators, in particular the critically endangered African wild dog.
If you would like more information on CCF’s research, conservation and education programmes, please contact CCF at:
Cheetah Conservation Fund
P.O. Box 1755, Otjiwarongo
Tel (in Namibia): (067) 306225, Tel (international): (+264 67) 306225
Fax: (067) 306247, E-mail: email@example.com, Website: www.cheetah.org
Biographies for 2019 Gala Guest Speaker and Cheetah Conservation Awardees
2019 CCF Gala Guest Speaker – Deon Cillers
Deon started his career in Conservation in the South African Airforce and then later as Nature Conservationist in the then Transvaal Provincial Government and later the Limpopo Province Department of Environment. In 2000 Deon made the move to NGO Conservation by joining the Dewildt Cheetah and Wildlife Trust moving to the Endangered Wildlife Trust and now with the Cheetah Outreach Trust since 2013. Throughout his conservation career Deon’s focus was on farmer/predator conflict mitigation. Deon was responsible for the establishment of the very successful cheetah metapopulation in conservation areas in South Africa as well as highlighting the plight of the wild cheetah on farmland areas in South Africa through the first ever cheetah census conducted in 2004 with his colleagues at the De Wildt Wild Cheetah Project. Deon now manages the Cheetah Outreach Livestock Guarding Dog Project. Deon is also responsible for the Cheetah Outreach Irwin’s Guardian Breeding Stud. Deon addresses predator conflict issues on farmlands and has established trust and respect with the farming community during his 29 years of working hand in hand with the farmers. Deon is also a professional member of the Game Rangers Association of Africa and a founding member of the Wild Dog Advisory Group of South Africa and the Range Wide Program for Cheetah and Wild Dog. Deon has a BTech Degree in Nature Conservation obtained at the Tswane University of Technology and coordinated various research projects focused on the use of Livestock Guarding Dogs with local and international students.
2019 Cheetah Conservation Programme of the Year Award
The Cheetah Outreach Trust Livestock Guarding Dog Project was started in 2005 by Annie Beckhelling, the founder of Cheetah Outreach. Their dog programme was modelled after that of CCF in Namibia, which has also provided breeding stock over the years. The project operates in the natural distribution range of cheetah in South Africa which includes the northern parts of the Northern Cape, North West and Limpopo Provinces. The Cheetah Outreach Trust also promotes culture of using livestock guarding dogs to prevent predation in other areas of South Africa by initiating pilot projects in partnership with farmer organisations and other conservation organisations. Up to date 309 livestock guardian puppies have been placed by the Cheetah Outreach Trust.
2019 Cheetah Conservationists of the Year – the Mary Kruger Family
The Mary and Wes Kruger family has been involved in cheetah conservation since 1982 when their daughter, Lynn, was a Rotary exchange student in the USA. Lynn spent weekends with Dr. Laurie Marker working at the Wildlife Safari Park caring for cheetahs. The Kruger family welcomed Laurie into their home earlier in 1982, on one of her visits to Namibia. This began a life-time family friendship. In 1991 when Laurie set up the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), their home became CCF’s Windhoek base. Mary is a Founding member of the CCF in 1992 and has served as an active member of the Namibian board ever since. As a retired nurse and business woman, Mary has been active in all aspects of CCF’s work, as well as using Livestock Guarding Dogs on the family farm for several years, to assist in reducing livestock loss to predators in the Gamsberg area. Mary also is the one who themed the CCF galas – ‘A Celebration of Speed and Elegance.’
2019 Long-standing services to Cheetah Conservation Award – Armas Shaanika
Armas Shaanika is CCF’s chief goat herder, and he is a Namibian conservation superstar! Armas has been Dr Laurie Marker’s partner in developing CCF’s Livestock Guarding Dog Program for 18 years, and she claims he is the best herder in the world! He knows our animals inside and out and around CCF, he is known as the ‘Livestock Guarding Dog and Goat Whisperer.’ Armas has been a part of CCF’s livestock guarding dog program from the beginning when one of CCF’s first dogs came under his care. In the years’ since, Armas joined CCF staff in 2005 and since then has raised most all of CCF’s puppies. He has worked with the puppies before they go to their new farms and also works with adult dogs that need to be rehomed, either setting them right or keeping them with his herd for more training with his own goats and sheep. Armas’ current dog is an Anatolian shepherd named Silver (like our LGD 25th anniversary!), one he favors because she is energetic, alert and listens to his commands. CCF’s smallstock herd is made up of Boer goats, Damara sheep and Saanen dairy goats that total just over 300 animals, which are housed together with our Livestock Guarding Dogs. Armas takes turns bringing the adult dogs into the bush with their smallstock herd each day. He evaluates the young dogs on their field work and assesses when rehomed dogs are ready to go back to work. Without him, we would not know the true potential of our CCF Livestock Guarding Dogs.
The 2019 Long-Term Conservation Achievement Award – Word Wildlife Fund for Nature, Namibia
WWF aims to conserve the world’s most ecologically important regions while helping local communities cultivate sustainable relationships with the natural resources they rely upon.
WWF Namibia has been at the forefront of conservation in Namibia through the creation of conservancies, which is one of the greatest conservation stories ever told. The development of conservancies has been a revolution, exchanging generations of wildlife conflict, poaching and unsustainable land-use practices for levels of habitat protection, wildlife conservation and sustainable development. Conservancies bring together government, local communities and the travel industry that allow rural Namibians to benefit by way of skills training, jobs and direct financial contributions. With the help of WWF and other partners, this progressive form of community-integrated tourism is changing lives, protecting animals and establishing Namibia as a leader in sustainable tourism. We Live With Wildlife.