Dr. Laurie Marker, founder of The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Namibia, walks us through her day
7am: After a cup of coconut coffee, I start each day by going out on a ride with my favourite horse, Shandy. These morning rides are not only for exercise or pleasure, but to check the fences on CCF farmland and see what is happening with wildlife in the area. Tracks of the various species tell the story of the night before and allow us to monitor the presence of predators around the CCF Centre in Namibia. I regularly find evidence of leopards, brown hyenas and jackals.
Less regularly, I find tracks of cheetahs, which always gives me a jolt of excitement. Cheetahs are extremely rare, but our work in Namibia, where the CCF headquarters are based, has seen numbers grow in this country over the past decades, and Namibia is now known as the cheetah capital of the world. Sadly, this is not the case for the planet as a whole, and cheetah numbers are on the decline. There are now fewer than 7,100 of them left in the wild.
8am: At 8am I supervise the exercise session for the CCF ambassador cheetahs, known as the “Cheetah Run”, or some of our other orphaned cheetahs at CCF. These cheetahs are either orphaned or have been rescued from farmer’s traps, and for one reason or another are unable to return to the wild. We care for them at CCF, and make sure they lead as natural a life as possible. CCF day visitors and overnight guests observe the running session and witness how the cheetah’s body is completely built for speed. The run is designed to provide exercise to improve the overall health of the orphan cheetahs, and it is a great opportunity for the guests to take pictures of them. After the run, I answer questions and help to explain more about CCF’s programmes and how to keep cheetahs in the wild, or, if they are orphaned and in captivity, how to keep them healthy.