Cheetah Conservation Gets Boost

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK THE Japanese Cheetah Conservation Society, (JCCS) is now the official Japanese Cheetah Conservation Fund affiliate following a memorandum of understanding signed during a JCCS representatives’ visit to Namibia recently. The JCCS, which is active in Tokyo, has 80 members and volunteers, and meets with other conservation organisations in Asia in spreading the word of the plight of the Cheetah. During her visit, the JCCS representative, Kumiko Watanabe learnt about research, education and conservation programmes at the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), as well as the needs of the organisation in terms of funding, exposure and support. Dr Laurie Marker, CCF’s executive director and founder, said having an organisation with which CCF is affiliated in Japan would enable Asians to become more involved with Cheetah conservation, thus removing the language barrier. As was the case, the donations were coming to CCF via the USA and UK. “Asia’s fascination and appreciation of our wildlife makes them allies in the Cheetah’s race for survival,” she said. Over the past two years, Marker said, the JCCS representative was actively supporting the Cheetah organisation through the Japanese organisation in raising awareness and funds in Japan and Asia. Ironically, it was the first time Watanabe saw a live Cheetah when she visited the CCF. Although Japanese tourists and travellers always considered Kenya and South Africa as their destinations, Namibia has in the past few years emerged as a very affordable and competitive destination, uncrowded, with unspoilt beauty and friendly people, remarked Dr Marker. She also noted that interest in Namibia was now growing because Asian wildlife photographers and film crews want to come to Namibia to document the country’ scenery as well as its abundant wildlife. Since 10 years ago, CCF has developed education and conservation programmes based on its bio-medical Cheetah research studies. It has also published scientific research papers and has presented educational programmes to over 120 000 outreach school learners, donated 150 Anatolian livestock guarding dogs to commercial and communal farmers as well as establishing a Cheetah genome resource bank of Cheetah sperm, tissue and blood samples. Research into Cheetah biology and ecology, says the CCF, has increased the understanding of the fastest land animal and educational programmes for schools and farming communities, and this helps to change public attitudes to allow predator and humans to co-exist. The Cheetah is Africa’s most endangered species. Namibia holds the world’s largest population of wild Cheetah and it is estimated that 95 percent of them live outside protected reserves and farms.