A century ago there were 100,000 cheetahs on the plains of Africa, now, says the private Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), less than 10,000 survive in the wild.
Conservationist Laurie Marker has devoted much of her life to the single cause of saving cheetahs from extinction. She moved thousands of miles away from her home in the U.S. state of California to southwestern Africa to run the CCF.
Marker says she loves cheetahs because they are so beautiful. She frequently says with a motherly and admiring gaze, “They’re the most amazing animals on the face of the earth,” she says.
Able to run at speeds up to 120 kilometers per hour, Marker says cheetahs are not only the fastest animals on Earth, they are also quickly disappearing.
She says cheetahs are being systematically slaughtered by farmers in Africa who are defending their livestock from the hungry spotted cats. Marker says, if she and others who are working to preserve the cheetahs do not act quickly, there will be none left in 20 years.
The Namibia-based Cheetah Conservation Fund is trying to save cheetahs by giving injured and orphaned cats a home. CCF also distributes to farmers a rare breed of dog specially trained to protect livestock from cheetahs without harming the cats. Marker says the dogs have gone a long way in helping to lessen the decline in the numbers of cheetahs. She still worries, however, that that it is not enough to save the cats from extinction.
“Everything about cheetahs is captivating," she tells anyone who will listen. "They are truly one of the wonders of the world... yet, they are going away before our very eyes.”
For more information on Laurie Marker and the Cheetah Conservation Fund visit their web site at www.cheetah.org.
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