It often takes time- and a lot of determination- for a big conservation vision to become successful. Twenty-five years ago, Dr. Laurie Marker moved to Namibia from the United States to found the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF). She planned to work with local farmers to address their issues with cheetahs and prevent human-cheetah conflict.
CCF started off small, working with only a few local formers. The team understood that building partnerships takes time and results wouldn’t be instant. Eventually, relationships grew, and CCF has now worked with more than 5,000 farmers on innovative solutions like the much-lauded livestock guardian dog program, which has been adopted by other conservation groups. Many interns who started in the field working with CCF have also gone on to become conservation leaders.
Laurie also played a role in the early development of the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN). When first pursuing his interest in conservation, Charlie Knowles, one of WCN’s co-founders, learned of Laurie’s impressive efforts in the field and sent a letter to her in Namibia, asking how he could help. Through his collaboration with Laurie, Charlie was inspired to create a way to support other individual conservationists throughout the world, leading to the inception of WCN.
It has been 25 years since CCF was founded, and its partnerships are now stronger than ever. CCF continues to grow and foster these relationships, helping the cheetah population in Namibia climb by approximately 40 percent since its work began. CCF is now the longest-running cheetah conservation program in existence and is proud to have changed long-held negative perceptions of the cheetah in Namibia. Twenty-five years ago, many Namibians viewed cheetah as pests but now proudly declare their country to be the “Cheetah Capital of the World.”