OTJIWARONGO, Namibia (29 Nov. 2019) – Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), the longest-running research, education and conservation organisation dedicated to saving the wild cheetah, is driving the worldwide observance of International Cheetah Day (ICD) Wednesday, 4 Dec. 2019, from its Field Research and Education Centre in Namibia, and its Cheetah Safe House in Somaliland. CCF staff will deliver public outreach programmes in the communities surrounding Otjiwarongo — the town where CCF’s Centre is based, the ‘Cheetah Capital of the World’– and in Hargeisa, the capital city of Somaliland, where CCF is based in the Horn of Africa. CCF teams will also distribute an ICD poster and drive conservation on social media channels. The purpose of ICD is to focus attention to the plight of the cheetah, its threats to survival, and to rally people from all nations to help.
With fewer than 7,500 cheetahs remaining in the wild (down from 100,000 a century ago), the survival of the species depends on human conservation action. Famous for being fast – cheetahs can reach speeds of up to 110 kph in short bursts – however, sadly they are losing their race for survival. Cheetahs face numerous threats, including human-wildlife conflict, habitat loss, loss of prey base and fragmentation. Their situation is further challenged by a lack of genetic diversity, which makes the species more vulnerable to ecological and environmental changes. Over the past decade, a new threat has emerged with devastating consequences, the poaching of cheetah cubs from East Africa to supply the illegal pet trade demand in the Middle East.
“Today, CCF is caring for 39 cubs recovered from traffickers by the Somaliland government at our Safe House in Hargeisa. Compare this to last December, when we had 11. The increase in this number is alarming, and it is causing conservationists great concern,” said Dr Laurie Marker, CCF’s Founder and Executive Director. “Three out of every four cubs poached from their mothers for the illegal pet trade will not survive.”
Despite being outlawed in most nations, keeping a cheetah as a status pet is still a popular practice in many Gulf states. CCF research indicates an estimated 300 cubs are being poached from the wild each year to supply the trade, most smuggled from the Horn of Africa into the Arabian Peninsula, entering Yemen from points along the Somaliland coast.
The ninth celebration of ICD will be first time CCF is on the ground in Somaliland to mark the occasion. CCFeducational teams will hold a public talk at the Hargeisa Cultural Centre on December 4, from 7 to 9 p.m., “Keeping Cheetahs in the Wild.”The talk is free. Parents are encouraged to attend with children.
In Namibia, CCF educational teams will deliver ICD messages, distribute educational materials, play games and lead activities that promote wildlife conservation from booths around Otjiwarongo all day on December 4.
“By engaging with local communities on International Cheetah Day, we hope to spark dialogue that will help address threats and generate benefits for wild populations if cheetah in Africa,” said Dr Marker.
CCF suggests ways people can join the International Cheetah Day celebration no matter where they live:
Join the conversation on Twitter by using hashtags #Loud4Cheetahs, #SaveTheCheetah, & #IntlCheetahDay. Use our Tweet Sheet to send tweets simply and easily. Just log in to your Twitter account and then open the Tweet Sheet. Click the TWEET button to instantly post to your Twitter page.
Share this special International Cheetah Day video message from Born to Explore TV host Richard Wiese.
Donate to conservation organizations like CCF to support programs to save the cheetah.
CCF also encourages educational institutions and animal organizations around the world to recognize International Cheetah Day with cheetah-themed activities and classroom lessons. Teaching and outreach materials, including a downloadable activities packet designed for elementary-aged schoolchildren and a PowerPoint presentation with notes, can be accessed through CCF’s websites, www.internationalcheetahday.com and www.cheetah.org.
About International Cheetah Day
Dr Marker is an internationally recognized expert on the cheetah. She designated Dec. 4 as International Cheetah Day in remembrance of Khayam, a cheetah she raised from a cub at Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. Dr Marker brought Khayam to Namibia to determine if captive-born cheetahs could be taught to hunt. Their efforts were successful and eventually the pair returned to Oregon. But during this trip, Dr Marker witnessed African farmers removing wild cheetahs from the landscape as a perceived threat. In 1990, she launched CCF and relocated to the newly-formed nation to mitigate the problem of farmer-cheetah conflict. Because of her interactions with Khayam, Dr Marker dedicated her life to becoming the cheetah’s champion, and she chose Khayam’s birthday for this important honour.
Cheetah Conservation Fund
Founded in Namibia in 1990, Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) is the global leader in research and conservation of cheetahs. CCF is dedicated to saving the cheetah in the wild. CCF’s mission is to be the internationally recognized centre of excellence in the conservation of cheetahs and their ecosystems. CCF will work with all stakeholders to develop best practices in research, education, and land use to benefit all species, including people. CCF is an international non-profit organization headquartered in Namibia, with operations in the United States, Canada, Australia, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom, and partner organizations in several other nations. For more information, visit www.cheetah.org.