Cheetahs are famous for their speed and agility but are also one of Africa's most endangered big cats. Their numbers have declined by 90% over the past 100 years, dropping from 100,000 to only approximately 10,000 today. The main reasons for the decline are human-wildlife conflict, disappearing habitat, and loss of prey.
Founded in 1990, Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) is the first and longest-running organization dedicated to saving the cheetah. CCF works internationally and maintains its field base in Namibia, the country with the most remaining wild cheetah. Employing a unique, holistic approach that addresses the needs of both people and wildlife, CCF’s success has led a nation that once viewed this species as worthless vermin to proudly lay claim to the title “Cheetah Capital of the World.”
From humble beginnings as a research outpost, CCF has grown into a major force in conservation. Under the guidance of Dr. Laurie Marker, the organization’s conflict-reduction, research, education and outreach programs are being replicated in other cheetah-range nations and used as a model for carnivore conservation programs around the globe.
“CCF operates under the principle that the key to successful conservation is improving the livelihoods of people. When human beings’ needs are met, they are more likely to care about biodiversity and become stewards of the planet.”
- Dr. Laurie Marker
A Unique Conservation Approach
Livestock Guarding Dogs
Reducing conflict between cheetahs and livestock farmers is a cornerstone of CCF’s work. In 1994, CCF imported Kangal dogs and Anatolian shepherds, two rare breeds used in Turkey for thousands of years to guard goats and sheep. CCF breeds and places dogs with Namibian farmers, monitors their progress and provides veterinary care. Farmers with CCF dogs report an 80% or higher drop in losses. CCF has bred, trained and placed almost 650 dogs since 1994, and has helped launch Livestock Guard Dog programs with sister conservation groups in Botswana, South Africa, and Tanzania.
Future Farmers of Africa
CCF teaches agricultural workers land conservation, livestock and wildlife management techniques to make African farms more profitable. FFA courses cover livestock health and veterinary care, husbandry and valuation, fire prevention, farm management and non-lethal predator control. CCF maintains a model farm on its 100,000-acre reserve within the Waterberg Conservancy to teach farm-related enterprises. In 2014, CCF established its Dancing Goat Creamery to market cheetah-friendly dairy products and train workers for higher paying, skilled jobs.
CCF's Bush Project
Millions of acres in sub-Saharan Africa have been taken over by thickened bush, which not only prevents cheetahs from hunting but also results in critical injuries. Left unchecked, thickened bush will drain water tables and make the land unsuitable for all wildlife. CCF scientists developed a way to combat this problem through production of a biomass fuel log made from selectively harvested bush under the trade name Bushblok. A clean-burning, renewable energy source for rural residents without electricity, Bushblok also provides jobs for 35 to 40 Namibians, with the potential to provide many more.
Agricultural workers trained by Future Farmers of Africa
Increase in Namibia's cheetah population since CCF was founded
Dr. Laurie Marker
Recognized as the world’s leading expert on the cheetah, Dr. Laurie Marker is a pioneer in the field of cheetah conservation and human-wildlife conflict mitigation. She first traveled to Namibia in 1977 with a cub she helped raise at Oregon’s Wildlife Safari to study the potential for reintroducing captive-born cheetahs into the wild. During this trip, Laurie was shocked to learn of the violent conflict between livestock farmers and cheetahs that was driving the species toward extinction.
Determined to end the conflict, Laurie relocated to Namibia and established CCF. She began going door-to-door to find out why farmers were shooting cheetahs. By understanding the farmers’ problems, she developed solutions that not only stopped the senseless killing but also changed the way people viewed predators in Africa.
Laurie has received many international awards for her work, including the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, the premier award for environmental science, environmental health and energy. She was also named a “Hero of the Planet” by TIME Magazine and serves as a Cornell University A.D. White Professor at Large. A contributing writer for The Huffington Post, in 2014, Laurie authored A Future for Cheetahs, a book examining the species’ outlook.
How You Can Help
Livestock Guarding Dogs
$500 will sponsor a Livestock Guarding Dog for a year providing food, veterinary care, and support to a local farmer.
Future Farmers of Africa
$1,000 will sponsor the costs of a week’s training for 10 farmers, helping improve their livelihoods for a lifetime to come.
$5,000 will sponsor an orphaned or injured cheetah living in CCF’s Cheetah Sanctuary for one year. Some cats will be rehabilitated and reintroduced to the wild, while others depend on CCF’s care for life.
When you designate your donation to a specific species, 100% of your donation will go directly to the field to support this species.
The Animal Superpower Challenge—brought to you by us and our partners at the Endangered Species Chocolate—in honor of Endangered Species Day, has reached its conclusion! We had a lot of fun and learned a lot of mindblowing facts from our brilliant audience. Thank you to everyone who participated and shared with us all the supercool adaptations of animals big and small.