FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:Susan Yannetti, Cheetah Conservation Fund, email@example.com
WORLD’S LEADING CHEETAH AUTHORITY WEIGHS IN ON FIRST-EVER CITES-COMMISSIONED REPORT ON ILLEGAL TRADE IN CHEETAHS
OTJIWARONGO, Namibia – Dr. Laurie Marker, one of the world’s leading big cat experts and the global authority on the cheetah, commends the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) for actions stemming from the first comprehensive report on global trade in cheetahs. The CITES-commissioned report, which included data on illegal trafficking cases compiled by Marker’s Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), was presented at the CITES 27th Animal Committee Meeting in April. Important recommendations resulting from this meeting were endorsed at the CITES’ 65th Standing Committee (SC65) Meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland earlier this month.
“We are ecstatic that the illegal pet trade in cheetahs is being addressed by one of the most important instruments for wildlife conservation, CITES, as it is of great concern to the survival of the species and it will continue as long as people view them as a desirable ‘exotic’ pet. For every cheetah that is illegally taken into captivity and sold, five more die. They are often sick, starved and can be contagious to other animals. This trade exacerbates the imminent threats to this species’ survival attributable to human-wildlife conflict, habitat loss and climate change. Over the past 100 years, we have witnessed the world’s wild cheetah population diminish by 90 percent, dropping from 100,000 to the 10,000 remaining today. We are in danger of erasing this species from the planet – and many others — if we do not act now and change our behaviour with regards to natural resource consumption,” said Dr. Marker. “CCF looks forward to the implementation of the SC65 recommendations.”
For the past couple of years, Dr. Marker has worked with veterinarians and registered cheetah holding facilities in the United Arab Emirates to teach proper care of cheetahs and encourage private owners to abstain from buying cheetahs from non-registered facilities, thus trying to stop the illegal trade at the demand side. “People must understand that even if a cheetah is properly trained and its dietary and health needs are met, it remains a wild animal, cannot be domesticated like a dog and should not be kept as a pet. Cheetahs must remain wild animals, for their survival, as well as our own,” explains Dr. Marker.
Dr. Marker recently wrote a book to draw attention to the plight of this beautiful big cat, A Future for Cheetahs, which addresses human-wildlife conflict, habitat loss and the illegal wildlife trade that threatens the cheetah’s survival throughout its remaining range. Through species conservation programmes engineered by Dr. Marker and administered through CCF, the cheetah population in Namibia has stabilised; however, human needs and land use demands continue to pose a threat to its survival. By working with farmers and game ranchers to develop alternative solutions to the conflict and by developing programmes to restore the habitat to its natural state, CCF has been able to stem the losses.
The cheetah is the fastest land mammal, reaching a speed of up to 110 kilometres (70 miles) per hour covering up to 7.5 metres (25 feet) in a single stride, with only one foot touching the ground at once. “Nothing in the world can equal the cheetah’s speed and agility. It is one of the most unique species on Earth, and it would be a tragedy if we were to lose it. But we only have a short time to do something about it before it is too late,” said Dr. Marker.
CITES Report on Illegal Trade in Cheetahs
Dr. Laurie Marker earned her DPhil. in Zoology from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. She has published more than 50 papers in scientific journals relating to her research on the cheetah and is a contributing writer on environmental and conservation issues for The Huffington Post. Dr. Marker began her study of cheetahs 40 years ago in the United States before eventually relocating to Otjiwarongo, Namibia, where she’s based her operations for the past 24 years. Dr. Marker has built a humble outpost into an internationally recognised research and education centre that has become the model for predator conservation worldwide. It includes a state-of-the art veterinary clinic and the only fully-capable genetics lab located at an in situ conservation site in Africa.
Dr. Marker has received many international awards for her work in the conservation field. In 2010, she was recognised with the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, the premier award for environmental science, environmental health and energy, considered the Nobel Prize for the Environment. That same year, she received a gold medal from the Society of Women Geographers and a Lowell Thomas Award from the Explorers Club. In 2008, Dr. Marker received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Zoological Society of San Diego and the Tech Museum’s Intel Environment Award for developing Bushblok, a biomass fuel product derived from encroaching thornbush. Dr. Marker is also a two-time finalist for the Indianapolis Prize, the most prestigious award given in animal conservation. In 2000, TIME Magazine designated Dr. Marker as one of their Heroes of the Planet.