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Friday, 21 March 2014

Update on Athena in Erinidi

Athena was released into Erindi Private Game Reserve for the first time on 15 October 2013 alongside Luna. During this time she proved to be successful in terms of finding food by managing to kill two young warthogs, an oryx calf, a sub-adult waterbuck, and a kudu within the first few days. However, after 15 days in Erindi, Athena escaped the game reserve. On 7 November 2013, Ryan Marcel Sucaet, CCF’s Assistant Cheetah Keeper & Research Assistant, and the Erindi staff re-captured Athena and returned her to Erindi. She was then housed in an enclosure at Erindi until the current release. While in captivity, the Erindi staff took care of the cat, feeding her and habituating her to Erindi game viewer vehicles.

photo by Warren Court
On 21 February 2014, Athena was re-released back into the Erindi Game Reserve. Dr. Laurie Marker, CCF Ecologist, Matti Nghikembua, and Ryan, along with the German film crew from ZDF tivi "pur+" journeyed to Erindi to help with and capture on film the release. Athena was being held in a 1ha boma and on the day of release she was moved into a transfer crate and moved to the center of the reserve to a large waterhole for release. Just before dusk, the crate door was opened and Athena, the six-year old female, ran out. She ran a few hundred meters and settled under a tree where we supplemented her with a large portion of oryx meat. She ate calmly under the shade of trees near the water hole.

Athena defending kill - photo by Ryan Sucaet
Ryan stayed at Erindi for the next two weeks to monitor Athena’s progress. On her second full day after release, Athena killed a young wildebeest calf and later in the week a newborn springbok calf.  Supplement feeding of Athena was not necessary during the two-week monitoring process as she consistently hunted on her own. However, she was given liver treats from the Erindi game viewer vehicle to maintain her habituation as well as trust with people. She was given water on several occasions. During these first few weeks, she endured extreme weather, including violent lightening/rainstorms as well as flash floods, which produced large puddles where she was frequently found drinking. Athena averaged around 3.5km movements per day covering a large portion of the central and western part of Erindi.

photo by Warren Court
The Erindi staff continue to monitor Athena and frequently find her with a distended belly, evidence that she is hunting successfully. Today’s news was that Athena has made her way to the northern part of the reserve and has found the two CCF male cheetahs (Chester and Obi-Wan) that were reintroduced into Erindi in June 2012. We are hopeful that breeding will take place in the near future.

map of Athena's movements after release into Erindi

Last week we took another female to Erindi, Jacomina. She has been at CCF’s reintroduction training camp since the end of December where she perfected her hunting skills. She is in holding at Erindi and will be released in the next couple weeks. We will keep you posted on our cheetah rehabilitation and reintroductions so please stay tuned for future updates. Your support is vital for the success of this program and the rest of the work we do here at CCF so please consider donating to ensure our mission moves forward. For more information please visit our website at

Friday, 7 March 2014

The Week of the Book

I have been traveling a lot so far this year. I just returned a week ago from my two week lecture tour in the UK and EU and was in the UAE for nearly two weeks before that. I’m now home but the last week has been hectic to say the least! On my return from the EU driving back from the airport, we met German children’s TV “pur+” crew at Erindi Private Game Reserve and released Athena, one of our cheetahs that was in a holding camp there getting her used to the area. The release went very well and she is now hunting and thriving. It also rained and rained this past week and our thatch roofs are still leaking, so we have covered the roofs with big plastic tarps and when the wind blows the noise is impressive to say the least.

at Erindi with the pur+ crew
We have had our share of snakebites. The day I left for the UK one of our favorite livestock guarding dogs, Feliz, was bitten and died nearly instantaneously. It was horrible, and the bites have continued. I was home only three days when my favorite horse, Shandi, came into the barn with what appeared to be a snakebite on her back leg. It was swollen, nearly double the normal size and she was in great pain. That night our veterinary and horse team stayed up with me till around 11:30pm injecting Shandi with anti-inflammatory medicine, anti-biotics, and bags of IV fluids. We were all very worried that night and for the next several days until the swelling decreased and she was able to go out with the herd again. We then had to bring Jacamina, one of our cheetahs being rehabilitated in from the field to stitch up a wound on her rear leg.  The same day one of our goats was bitten by a snake on her neck. As the inflammation increased the next 24 hours it literally started to strangle her. We did an emergency tracheotomy with the surgery lasting long after midnight. Bruce had to keep our generator running (it turns off around 11:00pm) to finish the surgery.

working on Jacomina with the pur+ crew
While all these emergencies were occurring I was trying to finish up the final edits of my book, A Future for the Cheetah. A few days later, this past weekend, one of our Anatolian Shepherds came back from a farm due to having a mass cell tumor the size of a grapefruit. Luckily, we were able to extract the mass and are very pleased the morning after surgery and now, two days later, she is doing fine. We are hopeful the tumor was completely removed. It will be shipped to a pathology lab for closer examination to see if the mass was removed in whole. The next morning we had to bring Bella in from her camp to stitch-up a wound on her shoulder. It has definitely been one crazy week!

Karibib doing well in recovery after her surgery
Whilst all of these events were ongoing, the final edits for the book went to the publisher yesterday. Along with two major grant proposals that needed completing this weekend as well! Our CCF team is amazing as we have pulled through several days of long hours under unusual circumstances with much success.

Dr. Laurie Marker

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Dr. Laurie Marker's Spring European Tour

I had a very fast turnaround to the airport with less than three days home from the UAE  heading off to Europe.  However, we had a German TV crew at CCF filming for their show “Waisenhaus für wilde Tiere” so we anesthetized and brought to the clinic D’Artagnan, one of our male cheetahs, who needed treatment for an injured leg.

My European Tour began with a lecture to conservation biology students at Kent University through the help of Niki Rust, one of my PhD students, and several meetings with her professors. The next day was the big CCF UK fundraising event at the Royal Institution in London with Jonathan and Angela Scott from Big Cat Diary. The night was a success for the cheetah with over 200 people joining us!

At the Royal Institution in London

In London I was invited to the Illegal Wildlife Trade reception, convened by the British Government. I met with colleagues and government official from across 50 counties. CCF collaborated with ZSL’s (Institute of Zoology) Cheetah & Wild Dog Conservation Planning Process with a poster highlighting the illegal pet trade on cheetah.

I then traveled to France, where, in Paris, I met with past volunteers and supporters. I then headed to La Fleché with Catherine Ebbs-Perin, the president of our French support group Amifelin, for a media interview and then a private dinner with CCF supporters, hosted by Pasquel Fournie from Fous de Nature at ‘Moulin des Season’.  The next day, over 100 people attended our CCF Cheetah Conference and film viewing hosted by Pasquel Fournie.

In La Fleché, France

My next stop in France was Nantes Veterinary School. Annually, CCF has interns that come from this school and we hope that many more will come to Namibia.

When I arrived in Holland, long-time supporter and my close friends the Louwman family of Wassenaar Wildlife Breeding Centre, picked me up from the airport and took me to a lovely dinner. I was able to meet with Simone Echardt from our support organization, Stitching SPOTS. The next day, I went to Van Hall University in Leuwarden where I was greeted by over 100 students and a number of past interns. It was great to reconnect with them.

With the Louwman Family
At Van Hall University

I then went to Germany to meet our German cheetah colleagues from AGA, Birgit Braun and Teresia Rebitschko. We had several meetings including a meeting with Namibian Tourism Board and with Roland Melisch, the Director of TRAFFIC’s Africa & Europe programs where we talked about the rising problems around illegal live trade of cheetah.

Heading out of the continent, I was given a special behind the scenes tour of the Frankfurt airport detection dog training program, which includes using the detection dogs to find, among other things, wildlife and wildlife products. 

As I arrived home I met up with Ryan Sucaet (Assistant Cheetah Keeper) and Matti Nghikembua (Senior Ecologist) with a film crew from German TV’s educational programme “pur+” at Erindi Private Game Reserve for the rerelease of Athena into the wild. The next day, Ryan reported that Athena had settled well and had already made a wildebeest calf kill.

With all my travels, it is nice to be back home in Namibia.

Many Cheetah Purrs,


Tuesday, 18 February 2014


This month we are launching a new initiative called HUMANS FOR CHEETAHS.  Cheetah Conservation Fund created a team that can be part of any CCF approved charity team around the country for runners, walkers, bikers, and other racers who want to participate in athletic events and raise money to help save the cheetah by supporting CCF.  

Dr. Laurie Marker and Honorary HUMANS FOR CHEETAHS Chairperson Jack Hanna invite you to join the first HUMANS FOR CHEETAHS team in Portland, Oregon on Sunday, May 18, 2014 as they run or walk in the Portland Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.  Join as a virtual team member and receive all the team benefits, even if you can’t join us in person. 

HUMANS FOR CHEETAHS Honorary Chairperson, Jack Hanna.Recognized around the country as America's favorite zookeeper, Jack Hanna is Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, a conservationist, author, television personality, and lifelong adventurer.   We are very happy to have Jack Hanna supporting our new HUMANS FOR CHEETAHS initiative. 

This is our first charity team event in what is planned to be a series of HUMANS FOR CHEETAHS athletic events around the country, raising awareness and money to save the cheetah in the wild by engaging in outdoor activities like running, walking or biking.    

Want to join the team? Go to: for details on the event and how to join in the fun in Portland. We are pleased to be an official charity partner of the Portland Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. 

In exchange for donating or raising $250 for CCF, we will cover the cost of your registration as a HUMANS FOR CHEETAHS team member in the Portland Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. There are all kinds of ways you can raise money, but we’ve set up an online campaign with Crowdrise to help you!

As part of the HUMANS FOR CHEETAHS team, you’ll be invited to a special team party May 17th. Meet fellow team members and be inspired by a cheetah ambassador.  To show your team pride, you get a Nike dri-fit team shirt.

Coming from out of town?  Team members may stay at The Paramount Hotel in Portland and receive a 25% discount for a rate of $149.50 per night plus tax on May 17 and May 18.

But the great news is that you can be a member of HUMANS FOR CHEETAHS, even if you don’t want to run a half marathon. Become a Virtual Team member, and receive all the benefits of a team member, just by raising money for CCF.

And there are even more ways you can get involved.  You can support a team member by donating to their fundraising effort. For as little as $10 you can make a difference to an athlete looking to help win the race against extinction. Go to our team page at Crowdrise here. You can even use a personal milestone like a birthday or anniversary to  adopt a team member.  Ask people to support the HUMANS FOR CHEETAHS team in lieu of gifts.

The most important part of our new HUMANS FOR CHEETAHS effort is that we’d like to see more teams, in more sports activities in more cities. Contact if you would like to coordinate a HUMANS FOR CHEETAHS team in your city.  

As is always the case, an effort like this doesn’t happen without the help of some awesome humans.  Teresa Delaney, a Trustee Emeritus of CCF has been spearheading this project with Co-Chair Dave Bell.  Dylan Lee and Andy Prince, who work at Wieden + Kennedy Advertising Agency, donated their time and amazing talent to create our beautiful logo and are helping with CCF’s messaging of the event.  We would also like to thank Ecotrust and Foot Traffic for their support.

If you are interested in becoming a team sponsor, please contact Teresa Delaney at

For more information about the Portland Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon course and other details, go to:

Monday, 3 February 2014

CCF in the United Arab Emirates

In late May and early June 2013, CCF’s Assistant Directors, Dr. Anne Schmidt-Küntzel and Patricia Tricorache joined me in the UAE where we spent 10 days. The purpose of our trip was two-fold, one was to lecture for the Emirates Natural History Group in three locations and the other was to network with cheetah breeding facilities and veterinarians, where several other lectures were given. Consequently, during our discussions with vets and the main captive cheetah facilities, all felt that a workshop on cheetah health issues, husbandry, necropsies, and banking of genetic and reproductive samples would be very useful. 


On the 29th of January, Dr. Anne Schmidt-Kuntzel, Ryan Sucaet, CCF’s Research Assistant and Cheetah Keeper and I, returned to the UAE and headed to Al Ain for a half-day conference hosted by The President’s Affairs Management of Nature Conservation (MNC) Facility. The conference covered topics such as captive cheetah care and management, health and disease, genetics and genome resource banking (GRB), including semen collection and techniques. 


We then traveled to four locations to conduct collections and training at individual facilities. In Al Ain we worked on three male cheetahs with their veterinary and research team in order to collect blood, measurements, and successfully bank sperm from two of their cats. Our next day took us to Emirates Park Zoo where we worked up one male, collected another sample for our GRB and trained their vets and husbandry team on our methodology. 

Our fourth day was our most triumphant: we worked on 11 male cheetahs at Sheik Buttie’s private breeding facility in Dubai. We were able to work with the manager and vet from this facility, the vet from Sharjah and the manager from Wadi Al Safa. After a 15-hour workday, we banked over 25 semen samples from eight of the cheetahs. 

Al Bustan hosted a hands-on workshop on the 2nd of February, where we trained more veterinarians and staff of several institutions within the UAE.

We headed out on the 4th of February after attending the first day of the 15th annual Conservation Workshop for the Biodiversity of Arabia held at the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife in Sharjah, which brought together international conservationists from the Arabian Peninsula working towards strategies of IUCN wildlife re-introductions, translocations and how to apply this to various species of this region. In addition, a captive care workshop and small mammal survey techniques were also topics during the conference.


Overall, we worked up 18 male cheetahs and initiated the beginning of the UAE’s Genome Resource Bank and trained the veterinarians and research staff from over 10 facilities in the country.

Dr. Laurie Marker
Cheetah Conservation Fund

Monday, 27 January 2014

Meet Lucky!

We would like you to meet Lucky! This sweet well-maintained boy was a working dog on a resettled farm where he loved watching over his goats and sheep. Unfortunately, when his herder, livestock, and him were crossing a road, he was hit by a truck. This was not due to negligence of the herder but was just an accident, and thankfully the herder got him to the veterinarian as soon as possible. He sustained quite a few severe injuries and was taken to a veterinarian clinic in Otjwarongo and then transferred to a clinic in Windhoek. In Windhoek he had to receive surgery to have his femoral head removed on his left side. Both his front and back right legs were broken in the accident, so those were splinted as well.

Despite these injuries, Lucky has been a real trooper and has been walking better than we expected. He is very patient with all his bandage changes, which must be changed daily. The clinic team and numerous volunteers/interns are always happy to give Lucky a short walk to help him gain some muscle strength back in his legs and so he can relieve himself. You can normally find him out in the office relaxing on his mattress pad with volunteers, staff, and interns working close by. He has been receiving a lot of tender love and care while he recovers and due to his young age (7-8 months) he is very resilient.

Lucky’s recovery will take many months, but here at CCF we have high hopes for him, and will of course keep you updated on his progress. If you would like to support Lucky and help him receive the care he needs, please consider donating to CCF to help cover the costs of his recovery.