News / USA

    US Woman Fights to Save Cheetahs

    Just 10,000 of the big cats survive worldwide

    Laurie Marker - founder and executive director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund - with the late Chewbaaka, a cheetah she raised since he was orphaned almost 16 years ago.
    Laurie Marker - founder and executive director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund - with the late Chewbaaka, a cheetah she raised since he was orphaned almost 16 years ago.

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Since ancient times, people have regarded cheetahs with awe for their beauty, grace and unique ability to reach speeds of up to 110 kilometers per hour.

    But today, the species - which once ranged across Africa, India and Asia, has dwindled to only 10,000 animals worldwide, primarily in 24 African countries. The species once numbered at 100,000.

    Luckily for the cheetahs, Dr. Laurie Marker is on their side.

    Learning curve

    Marker first started working with cheetahs in the early 1970s, when she ran a wildlife park in the state of Oregon. She says at the time, nobody knew much about cheetahs.

    “The more people I asked, they said ‘When you find out something about cheetahs let us know. They don’t do well in captivity. They have a very short life span and we’re losing them throughout the ranges in the world.’ So that just made me fascinated and I wanted to know everything there was about them.”

    Marker traveled to Namibia - a southern African country which is home to the world’s largest wild cheetah population - to learn as much about the species as she could.

    Threat to cheetahs

    In 1990, Marker moved to Namibia permanently and founded the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), a non-profit organization which conducts research and offers educational programs.

    The center develops strategies to combat some of the biggest threats to cheetahs, including confrontations with livestock farmers.


    Anatolian Shepherd dogs help Namibian farmers protect their livestock from cheetahs. (Cheetah Conservation Fund)

    Because cheetahs often prey on the cattle, sheep and goats that now graze on the African savannah, they are often killed by farmers. So Marker started working with local farming communities to find ways to protect their livestock from the big cats.

    Guard dogs

    In 1994, she introduced the farmers to the Anatolian Shepherd, a breed originally from Turkey.

    “This breed has been used for about 5,000 years to protect livestock from predators,” says Marker, “and they act as a guardian by avoidance.”

    By barking loudly, the dogs let the predator know that they’re there protecting the flock, and since the predator doesn’t want to get hurt, they will then avoid those flocks where the dogs are, she says.

    Marker now breeds and trains the guarding dogs, which don’t herd, but simply put themselves between the livestock and any predators. That is usually enough to discourage the cheetahs from attacking.


    Laurie Marker with Koya, a Turkish guarding dog, and Chewbakka.( A.L. Harrington)

    Over the past 15 years, CCF has donated more than 400 dogs to Namibian livestock farmers. As a result, there has been up to an 80 percent decrease in livestock losses and farmers have developed more tolerance for having cheetahs around.

    Since the introduction of the guard dog program, CCF says the population of cheetahs in Namibia has risen from about 1,000 to 1,500, to between 3,500 and 4,000.

    “So we’ve been able to really grow the population,” says Marker, “and again, that’s out of a world population of about 10,000.”

    Going global

    Marker would like to keep growing that number by expanding the CCF programs into other countries where cheetahs once roamed.

    “What we’re trying to do is to actually work together with a variety of partners throughout Africa to look at areas where the cheetahs are, the kind of problems that they are facing and solutions that we can then help the people and the cheetah,” she says.

    CCF is also working with the government of Iran - home to less than 100 cheetahs - to double that number within the next 10 years.

    Today, Marker is considered one of the world’s leading experts on cheetahs. She travels the world giving speeches and attending fundraisers to increase awareness about this charismatic and highly endangered animal.

    “If we are not successful we’re going to lose this amazing species in a very short period of time,” she says.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora