Cheetahs are beautiful and speedy. There once were more than 100,000 cheetahs living inAfrica and Asia.
Today only about 10,000 of the animalsremain.
Laurie Marker is working to keep cheetahs fromdisappearing.
LAURIE MARKER: «I started working with cheetahs whenI lived in Oregon — and I ran a wildlife park there; this wasback in the early ’70s, and nobody knew anything aboutcheetahs and I was fascinated about them, and the morepeople I asked they said ‘when you find out somethingabout cheetahs let us know; they don’t do well incaptivity, they have a very short life span, and we’relosing them throughout the ranges in the world.’
So thatjust made me fascinated and I wanted to know everythingthere was about them.»
Dr. Marker traveled to Namibia to learn more aboutcheetahs.
The country has the world’s largest wildcheetah population.
LAURIE MARKER: «Understanding about how thecheetah lives is really important.
So understanding itsbiology and its behavior, understanding the ecology of it,which really revolves around where it’s living and, andhow it’s living, and that interfaces with humans.»
In 1990, Dr. Marker created the Cheetah ConservationFund, a nonprofit group based in Namibia.
Farmers often kill cheetahs because they can attackcattle and other farm animals.
So Dr. Marker startedworking with farmers to find ways to help protect theiranimals from the big cats.
In 1994, she began tellingfarmers about the Anatolian Shepherd.
LAURIE MARKER: «This breed has been used for about5,000 years to protect livestock from predators.
And theyact as a guardian by avoidance — they bark loudly, theytell the predator that they’re there protecting the flock, andthe flock will come around the dog and by the dog barking- the predator doesn’t want to get hurt — and they will thenavoid those flocks where the dogs are.»
Over fifteen years, the Fund has donated more than 400dogs to livestock farmers in Namibia.
The farmers havereported up to an 80 percent decrease in farm animaldeaths.
LAURIE MARKER: «Since our time in Namibia thepopulation of cheetahs there was about 1,000 to 1,500individuals.
Today it’s probably 3,500, maybe 4,000cheetahs.
So we’ve been able to really grow thepopulation.
And that’s out of a world population of about10,000.»
The farmers have reported up an 80 percent decrease infarm animal deaths.
Dr. Marker wants to expand the CCF programs to othercountries, where cheetahs once lived.
LAURIE MARKER: «If we are not successful we’re goingto lose this amazing species in a very short period oftime.»
I’m Mario Ritter.