By Norman Powell for The Island Connection
Dr. Laurie Marker, founder and Executive Director of the internationally based Cheetah Conservation Fund, will come to Seabrook Island on March 27 for a special Evening Program offered by the Seabrook Island Natural History Group.
“We’re a conservation organization working to combat the problems that afflict the human communities that live alongside cheetahs and threaten the cheetah as a species with extinction,” Dr. Marker says of CCF, which she founded in 1990 in Namibia, home to the world’s largest population of free-ranging cheetahs.
CCF’s research and education center is located about three hours north of Windhoek, Namibia’s capital city. The cheetah is the world’s fastest land mammal and Africa’s most endangered big cat. It’s unique physiology allows it to reach speeds of more than sixty miles per hour while chasing prey. Numbered in the hundreds of thousands in Africa and Asia at the beginning of the 20th century, there are fewer than eight-thousand cheetahs surviving today, almost all of them in Africa with a small population in Iran. Dwindling numbers are due to many factors, among which are habitat loss and resulting conflicts with farmers and ranchers, and the illegal wildlife trade.
Dr. Marker has worked with cheetahs since 1974 and moved to Namibia in 1990 to develop a permanent conservation research center for the endangered animals. She earned her doctorate from the Department of Zoology at Oxford University and is the recipient of many international awards for her conservation initiatives. CCF has since established offices and research programs in the United States, Europe and Asia supplementing efforts at its Namibian center.
All Seabrook Island residents and guests are welcome at SINHG Evening Programs, which begin at 7 p.m. with refreshments and fellowship followed by the program at 7:30. There is a $5 donation for non-SINHG members. Membership information can be found at SINHG.org.