Blog by CCF Staff
Cheetah Conservation Fund
Today there are fewer than 7,500 cheetahs remaining in the wild. The species once
roamed freely from India, throughout the Middle East and across the continent of Africa. Due
to habitat loss, human/wildlife conflict and the illegal pet trade, cheetah populations have
become greatly reduced with fragmented pockets scattered across their former range.
Extinct in over 20 countries, the largest and most stabilized populations are concentrated in
southern Africa. Namibia, where Cheetah Conservation Fund’s (CCF) headquarters are
located, has the largest remaining population.
The CCF was founded in 1990 by Dr. Laurie Marker, CCF’s success lies in its scientific and
holistic approach to saving the species. The three pillars upon which CCF’s successful
programs are built are research, education and conservation.
CCF’s research focuses on a number of aspects of the cheetah’s life cycle, biology and
genetics. CCF is home to a world class research facility that is unique in Africa. It includes
the Haas Family Research Centre that houses its Veterinary Clinic and ecology labs
and the Life Technologies Conservation Genetics Laboratory (the only fully-equipped
genetics lab in situ at a conservation facility in Africa). From this facility, CCF collaborates
with scientists around the globe on research that not only benefits the cheetah and its
ecosystem, but other big cats and predators as well.
Environmental education plays a key role in CCF’s mission. Public education about the
cheetah and the role of predators in the landscape are critical to the survival of the species.
CCF conducts educational outreach by visiting schools and farms in the rural communities.
CCF also welcomes students and visitors to its International Conservation Research and
Education Centre. The Centre, features: a Cheetah Museum where current information
about the cheetah and its ecosystem is displayed; the Model Farm and the Dancing Goat
Creamery where farmers and students can gain a greater understanding of their trades
through predator-friendly, conservation-based coursework on small stock and also making
artisan cheeses; and the Biomass Technology and Demonstration Centre where
renewable energy using biomass is researched and developed to increase Namibia’s
economic freedom and provide access to clean energy technology across the country.
Namibia has an innovative Conservancy movement since the country began in 1990.
Conservancies are a unique wildlife management structure that allows the local populace
within a land management area to manage the wildlife treasures located there. Because
people in the Conservancies “own” the wildlife, they are far more interested in protecting it,
and areas governed by Conservancies tend to be far more resistant to outside influence
from poachers. CCF works with local eastern communal farmers and communities that
surround the Waterberg plateau, creating a conservancy and economic development area
known as the Greater Waterberg Landscape.
CCF’s Holistic Approach
Due to the growing numbers of larger predators in protected areas, over 80% of the
remaining cheetahs are found outside protected areas and live alongside human populations
and their livestock. Each and every action taken at CCF is done with the needs of the whole
landscape in mind. From the very first day Dr. Laurie Marker arrived in Namibia, her first
priority was to address the concerns of rural communities who viewed the cheetah as a
nuisance and a threat to their safety and livelihoods. Through this approach, CCF Future
Farmers of Africa has developed. Training farmers on integrated livestock, wildlife and
rangeland management. In addition, CCF also breeds and provides Livestock Guarding
Dogs to the rural smallstock farmers. The Anatolian shephard and Kangal dogs, used in
Turkey for thousands of years, protect the flocks from cheetahs and other predators.
In 2019, CCF continues its work within the community and is active in many new
intersectional conservation initiatives. In March, CCF’s veterinary team began to bring
vaccinations directly to the domestic animals of rural farmers. The goal is to quell the spread
of rabies from domestic animals to wildlife. Along with vaccination delivery, CCF developed
educational resources to help raise awareness of the dangers of rabid animals, how to
identify the symptoms of the disease and how to avoid infection. Before any action was
taken, extensive research was done on the effects of rabies on wildlife populations. And now
that CCF is implemented an action plan, research will continue to be built as data is
collected in the field.
Our mobile clinic is just one example of CCF’s holistic approach to conservation. To learn
more about CCF’s research, education and conservation programs including the Livestock
Guarding Dog program visit: www.cheetah.org. Follow the cheetahs on social media
@ccfcheetah and help CCF #SaveTheCheetah in the wild.
Photo copyright CCF