Monday, December 3, 2012

International Cheetah Day

The Okakarara cubs --four of CCF's orphan cheetahs being trained as Educational Ambassadors. (c) Cheetah Conservation Fund

International Cheetah Day
The Cheetah Conservation Fund Declares 4 December
as International Cheetah Day

A leading organisation dedicated to saving the wild cheetah, declared 4 December as International Cheetah Day, to raise awareness about the plight of the most endangered cat in Africa and Iran. The announcement comes amid recent reports of the plight of big cats in Africa and the news of the extinction of a species of rhinoceros.

Dr. Laurie Marker, founder and executive director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), made the declaration today from CCF’s Education and Research Facility in Otjiwarongo Namibia. “With the launch of the International Cheetah Day, we at CCF hope to increase worldwide awareness about Africa and Iran’s most endangered cat,” said Marker.
Marker's announcement was made amid the backdrop of recent disturbing news reports demonstrating the need for wildlife conservation awareness. In late October, USA Today reported that many conservation experts are warning of the extinction of big cats, including the cheetah, in Africa in as little as two decades. The reality of this possibility was highlighted by a November article on National Geographic’s website announcing that an international wildlife organisation has declared the Javan rhinoceros as extinct in mainland Asia after the last known Javan Rhinoceros there was shot and killed last year. Only 50 of the creatures remain in Indonesia.

“The threat of extinction to the cheetah, other big cats and many other species of wildlife worldwide is real and looming,” says Marker. “Increased awareness of the plight of these creatures, as well as greater support of conservation efforts, is vital if we hope to ensure their survival.”

Dr. Marker worked with IUCN to feature the cheetah on its Red List Species of the Day on 4 December 2010. This date was chosen to celebrate the birth of Khayam, a cheetah raised by Marker in Oregon and brought to Namibia 35 years ago to conduct reintroduction research. With Khayam in Namibia, Marker learned that conservation is as much about people as it is about animals.

The Species of the Day is a joint project of the IUCN Species Programme and the Species Survival Commission (SSC) to increase awareness of the enormous variety of life on our planet and to raise the profile of threatened species. The programme was produced with the support of the United Nations Development Programme and ARKive, the ultimate online multimedia guide to the world's endangered species.

The CCF will celebrate the day with the graduation of 27 international practitioners from eight cheetah-range countries. These conservation scientists spent the last two weeks at CCF learning about mitigations techniques to reduce human and livestock conflict with predators. Since 2009, over 300 conservation scientists from 15 cheetah-range countries have participated in CCF's international courses made possible by the support of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.
The wild cheetah population has decreased 90% in just over 100 years, from 100,000 in 44 countries at end of the 19th century to approximately 10,000 today found in 23 African countries, with a small group (approximately 70) in Iran. CCF aims to conserve the cheetah and ultimately ensure its future on our planet by working with all stakeholders within the cheetah’s ecosystem to develop best practices in research, education and ecology and create a sustainable model from which all other species, including people, will benefit.

For more information:
Cheetah Conservation Fund
PO Box 1755, Otjiwarongo, Namibia
Tel: +264 (0) 67 306225
Fax: +264 (0) 67 306247

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