The cheetah's global guardian - Dr. Laurie Marker
Since 1974, Dr. Laurie Marker has been a tireless campaigner for the welfare of Acinonyx jubatus, the cheetah. In helming the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) for almost three decades, Dr. Marker has helped to identify the key dangers facing the species, and what can be done to combat them. From beginning her zoological career in an Oregon safari park during the 1970s, she has become a leading figure in felid conservation and has published more than 80 scientific papers, most relating to the conservation of the animal that’s closest to her heart. First visiting Namibia in 1977, Dr. Marker relocated there in 1991 in order to better serve the needs of the country's cheetahs.
Today Namibia is home to the world’s largest and healthiest cheetah population, thanks in no small part to the dedicated work done by Dr. Marker and her team. Through a combination of research, education and conservation efforts, the CCF have made great strides in ensuring the survival of the cheetah and expanding the scientific knowledge of the species. The CCF’s headquarters are located on a 100,000-acre private wildlife and livestock reserve, near Otjiwarongo in Namibia's Kalahari Basin. Here the CCF operate both a cheetah sanctuary and an open-to-the-public research and education centre. As well as running outreach initiatives in local communities and educating farmers about how to coexist with cheetahs, the CCF team also welcome visitors to tour the facilities, go on safari drives, and even stay on the property in one of two luxury lodges.
Dr. Marker’s work in Namibia and in her role as the public face of cheetah conservation worldwide has brought her international recognition. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2010 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement and the Zoological Society of San Diego’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. Dr. Marker was also named as one of TIME Magazine’s Heroes for the Planet in 2000, has served a member of Panthera’s Cat Advisory Council since 2008, and was appointed to the Cat Specialist Group of the IUCN/SSC (the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission) in 1996, now serving as a member of its core management team.