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Parasitology Study by the Cheetah Conservation Fund


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Liz Georges, Communications Coordinator, liz@cheetah.org, (703) 402-5354

Dr. Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director, cheetah@iway.na Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine Publishes Study by

Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) on Parasitology of Cheetahs

January 15, 2013 (OTJIWARONGO, Namibia) – The Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine has published “Diagnosis Based Treatment in Captive and Wild Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus),” a study addressing parasite load and treatment in captive and wild cheetahs. The CCF scientists used cheetah scat –which they call “black gold”– in a comparative study identifying four species of intestinal parasites and showing that wild cheetahs carry high parasite loads, higher even than those that were reported in CCF’s captive animals which are under good veterinary care.

“Internal parasites can threaten the health of both wild and captive cheetahs. There is still insufficient information about cheetahs in the wild and we take every opportunity to learn more about them through our research,” says Dr. Laurie Marker, CCF’s Founder and Executive Director and senior author of the study. “We’re pleased that the research capacity that we’ve built here at CCF – our veterinary clinic, genetics lab and our research centre– makes a study like this possible.”

The study also showed efficacy of the chosen treatment by verifying parasite load after the medicine was administered. The study’s observations are important both for understanding wild populations of cheetahs and the clinical management of captive populations.

The study’s use of cheetah scat from both captive and wild cheetahs at CCF’s Field Research and Conservation Centre in Otjiwarongo, Namibia, afforded a unique opportunity to compare captive and wild populations present in the same general locale and over the same period. CCF researchers used samples from resident non-releasable cheetahs which are housed in 5-100-acre enclosures on CCF property in a semi-natural environment, as well as from wild cheetahs that are known to frequent CCF’s farmland as part of their natural home range (averaging over 1500km2).

The scat samples allowed researchers to determine parasite loads, while genetic material derived from the scat of the wild cheetahs was analysed in CCF’s laboratory to verify the identity of the individual cheetahs being studied, so that parasite loads of wild cheetahs could be compared with captive ones. “With the constant progress in genetic methods and applications, this field becomes more and more valuable to conservation”, says co-author of the study, Dr. Anne Schmidt-Küntzel, Research Geneticist and Assistant Director for Animal Health and Research at CCF.The study was authored by Marie Mény D.M.V.; Anne Schmidt-Küntzel, D.M.V., Ph.D.; and Laurie L Marker, D.Phil. Dr. Marie Mény was a veterinary student from the École Nationale Vétérinaire de Toulouse, France, doing an internship at CCF at the time of the study. An abstract of the study is available online here: http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1638/2012-0028R1.1

Editors Notes • Founded in Namibia (Africa) in 1990, Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) , which is

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dedicated to saving the cheetah in the wild, is the global leader in research and conservation of cheetahs.

• CCF’s Founder and Executive Director, Dr. Laurie Marker, an American biologist, is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on cheetah biology, ecology and conservation collecting data on over 800 wild cheetahs and releasing over 600 back into the wild. CCF’s conservation strategy has contributed to increasing the wild cheetah population in Namibia by ~50%.

• The cheetah is Africa’s most endangered big cat with ~10,000 cheetahs remaining. Cheetah populations continue to decline throughout their range in Africa due to habitat and prey loss. This situation is exacerbated in poor rural areas where subsistence farming practices can lead to increased farmer-cheetah conflict, with serious consequences on both sides. Cheetah survival is therefore dependent on educated people helping subsistence farmers to improve their management practices, for the benefit of all. CCF encourages a unified and systematic approach to cheetah conservation studies and analyses and monitor the factors affecting the cheetah’s survival in the wild. CCF’s results are used to develop conservation policies and change public attitudes to allow predator and humans to co-exist.

• CCF collaborates with universities in Namibia and internationally and engages students in both applied and basic research encouraging publication of their work. CCF takes students and volunteers in fields of biology, ecology, veterinary medicine, agriculture and business.

• CCF is a registered non-profit in Namibia, Canada, UK and the US, where it is listed as a “Four Star Charity” by Charity Navigator, which recognises sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency. People can learn more about CCF or make a donation to the organisation by visiting http://www.cheetah.org.

 



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