|International Cheetah Day celebrated|
|Written by Staff Reporter|
|Wednesday, 05 December 2012 17:36|
“When a species becomes extinct, everyone loses.” December 4 marked the second annual International Cheetah Day. Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) and its founder and executive Director, Dr Laurie Marker, on this day again called on the international community to remember the cheetah, reflect on the importance of this iconic species, and act to support CCF in its efforts to secure the cheetah’s future.“We stand at a moment where this amazing animal could disappear in less than 20 years if we don’t do anything to stop it,” said Marker.
“International Cheetah Day serves to remind us that the cheetah, like all wildlife, is a treasure of our planet. Wildlife enhances our landscapes and can support livelihoods when utilized in a sustainable manner. The cheetah is not only the fastest, but also the oldest of all the big cats.” The cheetah has survived over 3 million years, through the Ice Age and a genetic bottleneck, only to have its numbers decimated by almost 90% in the last 100 years. With only
Threats include human-wildlife conflict – manifesting in the form of livestock herders who shoot cheetahs thinking they pose a threat to their flocks.
Another concern is the alarming number of wild cheetahs that die in the process of being captured and sold for the illegal pet trade. Inadequate farm management techniques have led to the rise of overgrown thornbush, which encroaches on the rangeland of both cheetahs and their prey species, and which causes injury to cheetahs when they try to hunt through the thickened bush.
Since its inception, CCF has been working to provide solutions that save cheetahs by helping people. CCF introduced Namibian livestock farmers to non-lethal predator control methods in the form of livestock guarding dogs – specially bred and trained Anatolian shepherds and Kangal dogs whose presence among the livestock can reduce predation rates by 80%.
CCF has also worked tirelessly with a network of individuals and organizations to combat the illegal pet trade, especially in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. CCF’s most recent effort is aimed at combatting habitat loss from encroaching thornbush, by selectively harvesting this thickened thornbush, and using the resulting biomass material to create an award-winning fuel log called Bushblok. Marker further encouraged children and adults to organize activities to celebrate this special day every year. Donations to support CCF’s work are accepted on www.cheetah.org.