Laurie Marker

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Dr. Laurie Marker "is Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) based in Namibia, Africa. Having worked with cheetahs since 1974, Laurie set up the not-for profit Cheetah Conservation Fund in 1990, moving to Namibia to develop a permanent conservation research Centre for the wild cheetah. In 1992 the Cheetah Conservation Fund became a registered Namibian Trust. Today CCF's activities are housed at their International Research and Education Centre in the main cheetah habitat of the country. In July 2000 CCF opened their field research station to the public, having developed a Visitor's Centre, a Cheetah Museum and an Education Centre.

"Laurie helped develop the US and international captive program to assist the cheetah, establishing the most successful captive cheetah-breeding program in North America during her 16 years (1974-1988) at 'Wildlife Safari' in Oregon, USA. She first came to Namibia in 1977 when she brought a captive-born, hand-raised cheetah to Namibia to determine if a cheetah must be taught to hunt or if the process was fully instinctual. This was the first-of-its-kind research to better understand if there was a chance for captive-born cheetahs to be re-introduced into the wild. She learned about the conflict between livestock farmers and cheetahs in Namibia, discovering that wild cheetahs needed help. For the next ten years she continued travelling to Africa to learn more about the wild cheetah's problems and what could be done to assist wild populations. In the early 1980's, along with collaborators at the National Zoo and National Cancer Institute in the USA, she helped identify the cheetah's lack of genetic variation, thus causing the species greater problems for survival. In 1988, in collaboration with these two institutions she became the Executive Director of the Center for New Opportunities in Animal Health Sciences, based at the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo. She continues to serve as a NOAHS Research Fellow. In 1988 she developed the International Cheetah Studbook, a registry of captive cheetah worldwide, and is the International Studbook Keeper. In 1996 she was made a vice-chair of the World Conservation Union's (IUCN) Species Survival Commission's (SSC) Cat Specialist Group. In 2000 Laurie was recognised as one of Time Magazine's Heroes for the Planet and given the Burrow's Conservation Award from Cincinnati, Ohio. In 2001 Laurie was locally honoured in Namibia, receiving the Paul Harris Fellowship from the Windhoek Rotary Club, and in 2002 she received a special award from the Sanveld Conservancy', signifying Namibia's farming community's public acknowledgement of Laurie and CCF's contributions. In 2003 and 2005 she was named Conservationist of the Year by Chevron-Texaco and Living Desert's Track's in the Sand, respectively." [1]

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  1. Laurie Marker, Cheetah Conservation Fund, accessed November 14, 2007.