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Saturday, 30 November 2013

Upcoming Blog Series

Last year I wrote a series of blogs (the A-Z of camera trap photos) about some of the many other animals that can be found on CCF's extensive lands.  This year I plan to extend the series, again using camera trap photos as the basis.

African Crested Porcupine
One of CCF's greatest strengths as a conservation organisation is that we don't simply try to save the cheetah on it's own.  Unless you plan to wall them all up in a zoo, such indeed would ultimately be impossible.  Instead then, we look at the whole picture, the complete ecosystem in which the cheetahs exist.  In so doing, we impact that entirety, helping to save species with no conservation fund of their own, species that, in many cases have barely been heard of by the majority of people, let alone the fact that they too are threatened with extinction.

This blog is therefore dedicated to not the Big Five, or the Big Seven, or the other household names, but the forgotten ones, the species that without the support of organisations like CCF could so eerily disappear for ever, unremarked, unmissed save by the ecosystem that relies on them.

African Wildcat

Each blog entry will discuss a species listed on the IUCN Redlist, that also occurs on CCF land.  I'll look at the threats they face, their current status, and where possible, an outline of what can be done to save them.  The blog is not intended to depress you, but rather to help open your eyes to the wealth of Africa's wildlife, and to show you what delights await those who venture off the beaten track.  With your help, such will remain for our children and children's children to enjoy, equally as we can.

Rob Thomson
CCF Ecologist 

Monday, 25 November 2013

International Cheetah Day is December 4th!!!

You want to know how to celebrate, don’t you? Here at Cheetah Conservation Fund, our team of experts has assembled a carefully constructed list.....
Top 10 Ways to Help #SavetheCheetah on International Cheetah Day:
#10 -- Wear your favorite cheetah print clothing!
#9 -- Send out tweets using the hashtag #SavetheCheetah to tell your followers how important the cheetah is to its ecosystem.
#8 -- Join the “Virtual Cheetah Party” on our Facebook page! Post on our timeline all your thoughts, pictures, and fun cheetah facts to share with all our cheetah Facebook friends!
#7 -- Download our SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS -- change your profile pics and cover photos to show your love for the cheetah!
#6 -- Find a CCF CHAPTER located near you, and send an email offering to volunteer!
#5 -- FORWARD CCF’s latest newsletter to all your friends!
#4 -- Have lunch with your best friend and tell them how we’ve lost 90% percent of the world’s population of wild cheetahs in the last 100 years.
#3 -- Watch Dr. Laurie Marker deliver her “State of the Cheetah Address” on our YouTube channel!
#2 -- Give to CCF, the world’s leading organization dedicated to saving the cheetah in the wild
and the #1 thing to do on International Cheetah Day is:

Friday, 22 November 2013

Memorable Places: the Management of Nature Conservation (MNC) in Al Ain, UAE

The need to raise funds and awareness about the plight of the cheetah takes me on the road quite often, and every trip I’ve taken has given me the opportunity to meet with memorable people, and visit memorable places.

One such place is the Management of Na ture Conservation (MNC) facilities in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. MNC is operated under the Department of the President’s Affairs.

During a lecturing trip to that country with my Assistant Directors, Dr. Anne Schmidt-K√ľntzel and Patricia Tricorache, I had the privilege of reconnecting with a long-time friend, Willie Labuschagne (all of us above photo on camels), who under the direction of His Excellency Mr. Abdul Jaleel, Director General of MNC, is responsible for an impressive operation that includes scientific research and conservation initiatives.

There, in the middle of Al Ain, a name that means “The Spring” as the city is known for its seven oases, the MNC is an oasis in itself. A beautifully landscaped area called the Savanna covering more than 300 hectares, provides natural settings for 8 species of mammals and 8 species of birds, including the majestic nyala, greater kudu, grey crowned crane, Caribbean flamingos, Damara springbok, Soemmering’s gazelle, Nile lechwe, kob, Grant’s gazelle, sable antelope, Blue cranes.

The savanna is just the beginning. The compound houses state-of-the-art research and diagnostic laboratories, including a genetics and veterinary division. World-class scientists were generous in sharing with us their knowledge, covering areas like veterinary pathology, embryology, animal management, reproductive physiology, and genetics. Meeting them and being able to exchange experiences and ideas was a truly important gift for us.

The MNC is concerned about endangered species, and manages two impressive captive-breeding programmes, the Houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulate) and the Arabian tahr (Arabitragus jayakari), a goat-like ungulate endemic to the southeastern corner of the Peninsula. The tahr’s entire world population of less than 2000 occurs in the mountains of northern Oman and the United Arab Emirates. The MNC’s conservation model for this species was recently awarded the Certificate of Excellence by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Germany in recognition of its dedicated contribution towards saving the Arabian tahr from extinction. MNC was the first facility to successfully produce Arabian tahr through artificial insemination.

It is only through exchanges of information and ideas that scientists draw valuable information and research ideas. Unlike CCF, the MNC does not work with carnivore species; however, the knowledge we acquired through conversations with the scientists, and the visual impact of such a well-designed facility, left us with lots of food for thought.

During our stay, Willie also arranged for us to visit Al Bustan’s cheetah breeding facility where we met with the manager Meyer De Kock.   There we began discussions about the planning of a follow up visit and workshop with other facilities in the region.

It is impossible to thank our hosts enough for having provided us with this unique opportunity. Thank you to the scientists and researchers at MNC, to Willie Labuschagne, to His Excellency Mr. Abdul Jaleel Abdul Rahman Al Blouki and very especially to the Chairman of the Department of the President’s Affairs, His Excellency Eng. Mubarak Saad Al Ahbabi. 

Dr. Laurie Marker
Founder and Director
Cheetah Conservation Fund