CCF is currently working with CANAM to introduce the Cheetah Country Beef eco-label. This label, on packages of beef in grocery stores, will inform the consumer that the farm producing the beef engages in cheetah-friendly farming. The idea is that people are probably willing to pay a small premium to support farming practices which help to conserve wildlife. Beef produced by CANAM will be exported to the UK and so we expect this awareness campaign to have far-reaching effects. Meanwhile, the CANAM farmers are rewarded for their conservation efforts. Left: Laurie Marker and staff of UK importer Allied Meats.
Part of CCF’s research work is to conduct a comprehensive ecological study in order to better understand predator and prey interactions on large land conservancies. Owing to the decline in populations of large herbivores such as elephant and rhino, the grassland environment that provides habitat to cheetah and its prey species is experiencing an encroachment of brush vegetation which is changing the overall nature of the ecosystem. The composition of grass species changes with increased brush density and becomes less palatable and nutritious for games species and so they avoid it. The cheetahs have fewer animals to prey on, making hunting more difficult, a situation which is exacerbated by the difficulties they have in chasing prey through the denser brush. There is documentation of cheetahs being blinded from running through areas thick with thorny bushes.
To address this issue, CCF has initiated its Bushblok project and we had the official opening of our Bushblok plant in February (right). The areas of overly dense brush are thinned out and the removed brush is chipped and taken to CCF’s manufacturing plant. Here, the chipped brush is transformed into a very dense log-type fuel which can be used as an alternative energy source. CCF received a grant from USAID to research the feasibility of producing and marketing this Bushblok product and we have discovered thus far that it is a very worthwhile endeavour if we can work out ways to transport it at a reasonable cost. Our Bushblok plant has been really making fuel logs over the past two months since opening the plant. We have lots of people visit the plant and many orders for the logs. CCF is excited about this project as it is very innovative and has great potential to open up habitat, providing more grazing for wildlife as well as increase farmers livelihoods all in the name of the cheetah.
- Laurie Marker