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Huff Post: Dr.Laurie Marker’s article

Dr. Laurie Marker

Founder and executive director, Cheetah Conservation Fund

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Embracing the Cheetah, Embracing the World

Posted: 11/15/2012 10:01 pm
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Twice a year, I leave Cheetah Conservation Fund operations in Namibia and do a lecture and fundraising tour, usually visiting several cities in North America, and stopping in Europe on my way home. These tours are energizing for me, because I have the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, all of whom love the cheetah and are committed to helping CCF save it from extinction. All of these “cheetah friends,” old and new, have embraced our mission, and I am grateful to have their support.

Appreciation of the cheetah seems to be a universal impulse. People of every nation I have ever visited are fascinated with the cheetah. The cheetah’s speed, grace, and the look of fierce nobility in its seemingly endless amber eyes, have captivated humans for thousands of years. Unfortunately, it is because of humans that wild cheetah population has been decimated by 90 percent over the past century. Human-wildlife conflict, habitat destruction, illegal wildlife trafficking and the pet trade have put the cheetah’s very survival as a species in jeopardy.

I was heartened, however, by my visit to the European Parliament in Strasbourg from October 24 to October 26, because it renewed my faith that the world is indeed motivated to save the cheetah. Members of the European Parliament’s Intergroup for Animal Welfare and Conservation (IAWC) — Catherine Bearder and Andrea Zanoni — joined us for a dinner among CCF supporters. The following day I delivered apresentation to the members of the IAWC at the European Parliament, discussing many of our efforts to combat human-wildlife conflict issues, including our Livestock Guarding Dog Program, our Future Farmers of Africa Program, and our Bushblok initiative. I was gratified to find my presentation well received, with a very active question and answer session afterwards. I am very grateful to Cristiana Muscardini, the MEP from Italy who assisted in obtaining the invitation to speak, Andreas Erler, Secretariat of the Intergroup, who extended the invitation, and volunteer Elisabetta von Hoening, who worked tirelessly in planning the visit.

CCF’s approach to conservation, which focuses on creating opportunities for humans and predators to thrive side by side, has a lot to teach the world. By collaborating with local communities and finding practical, economically advantageous solutions, local Namibian farmers now see the cheetah as a valuable asset, and implement predator-friendly farming techniques as a means of increasing their productivity and profit. In Namibia we are starting to turn the tide — the overall population of cheetahs is now increasing in the areas in which we operate.

The work now needs to be replicated in other cheetah range countries, so that we can assure that the cheetah population around the world is stabilized, and so that future generations may continue to be fascinated by this magnificent animal. Many of the MEPs who participated in the session were interested in how the model of conservation we’re using at CCF can be deployed in European countries to address their problems with human-wildlife conflict — issues involving wolves and bears native to European countries, but badly decimated in number by many of the same factors that have worked against the cheetah population over the years.

We at CCF are looking forward to working with members of the EU Parliament, including Dan Jørgensen, vice chair of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. We hope to see our European friends again soon, hopefully in Namibia, where we can show them first-hand the work we’re doing, and the results that we’re achieving. Because it is still my very fervent belief that while we need the help of the whole world to save the cheetah, in doing so, the cheetah has the opportunity to help the whole world in return.

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Dr. Laurie Marker to talk in the European Parliament on October 25, 2012

Dear Friends, 

Dr. Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) located in Namibia, has been invited to speak at the European Parliament in Strasbourg during the Session of October 2012. 

Dr. Marker has been invited as an Expert of Excellence to participate in the regular meetings of the Intergroup for Animal Welfare and Conservation, and will lecture on the special programs of Fund which she created in 1990 in Namibia, near Otjiwarongo, after having chosen Namibia as “The Cheetah Country,” from 1974 onwards.

We are very happy to have been selected by an Italian Member of the European Parliament, Mrs. Cristiana MUSCARDINI, who is one of the Vice-Chairs of this group. Thanks to Mrs. MUSCARDINI’s invitation, Dr. Laurie Marker will be in Strasbourg from 24 October. To honour her visit, there will be an photo exhibit of the cheetah and of CCF’s Centre of Research and Education. This will be inaugurated and a cocktail will then take place in the European Parliament, to facilitate contacts and exchanges of information with Dr. Laurie Marker.

During her visit in Strasbourg, Dr. Laurie Marker will be able to express her views and expertise of the cheetah and the conservation programs from CCF and speak about her international role and missions. We have organised a special dinner on behalf of CCF to honour her presence.

We sincerely believe that she really deserves to be helped to carry on with her intensive, continuous efforts, working tirelessly, with unwavering convictions and unequalled courage for about 30 years to protect ecosystems, biodiversity and cheetah conservation. Cheetahs are among the animal species which are threatened with extinction. It is also very important to emphasize the fact that all her efforts involve a great deal of care for the local populations, by improving their living conditions by creating jobs and by spending a very large part of her budget to develop education and training in Namibia. She also has developed Eco-tourism which contributes to improving the local economies and motivating the local population to become real participants in the protection of their environment and of their heritage, which includes wildlife.

Dr. Marker’s innovative methods in research, education and conservation show a great deal of originality and many countries are working with CCF as they provide all the necessary expertise to any country that is determined to fight against extinction, elimination, and the poaching of cheetahs. Cheetahs are the fastest mammals on earth. They have a slender, strong body, a small head and a sight allowing them to detect a prey up to three miles away; however, cheetahs are among the most threatened animal species of all predators because they show a lack of genetic diversity making them very fragile. The number of cheetahs still present in Africa and in the rest of the world is very limited (10,000 to 12,000) with the majority in Namibia, the Cheetah Capital of the World. 

We are excited to invite you to come to Strasbourg to participate in this special event and to have the opportunity to join all the Associations working in close cooperation with Cheetah Conservation Fund. Your presence will represent a European effort to fight for the survival of one of the most beautiful animals on our Planet. Cheetahs truly deserve to be saved from extinction and, like every species on earth, they are essential to the preservation of biodiversity and a sound ecosystem.

A friendly dinner will be arranged in the historic centre of Strasbourg. You will have the opportunity of tasting the authentic, delicious specialties of Alsace, while spending a special evening with the Friends of CCF. This dinner will also be the opportunity to help Cheetah Conservation Fund by collecting funds so they may continue in their long-term scientific research, their efforts in education and training, and their special projects for cheetah conservation as well as CCF’s continued actions to develop a peaceful cohabitation between human beings and wildlife. Thus, your kind contribution will support this vast projects concerning not only Africa, but also other cheetah range countries in the world.

Since the European Parliament demands the detailed list of participants entering the Parliament building, it is very important for us to know the exact number of persons who will participate in this event. We thank you very much in advance for sending your answers regarding your participation in order to allow us to possibly make the necessary bookings at a restaurant, or hotel.

Sincerely yours,

Betty von Hoenning

Cheetah Conservation Fund Support Group Italy

Catherine Ebbs Perin

Amifelins, France

Birgit Braun, AGA, Germany

 Thank you for circling the option you have chosen and for crossing off the 2nd option

Speech of Laurie Marker in EP (max 50 persons) :YES                     NO

Photo Exhibit and cocktail in EP :                               YES                     NO

Alsacian Dinner :                                                             YES                     NO

Hotel (booking) :                                                              YES                     NO

Other :

 Please contact Betty von Hoenning at  bvonhoe@gmail.com for further informations. Thank you!