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MARLBORO COLLEGE HOSTS LECTURE BY “THE CHEETAH LADY”

MARLBORO, VERMONT – Marlboro College is pleased to announce a lecture by “The Cheetah Lady,” Laurie Marker, of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Namibia slated for Friday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. in the Whittemore Theater.

Dean of Faculty Jim Tober teaches environmental policy at Marlboro and visited CCF headquarters as part of an exploratory effort to develop internship opportunities for Marlboro students.

According to Tober, "Laurie Marker has a terrific story to tell. She has built a first-class organization in Namibia that engages local people, supports traditional and sustainable land uses, and fosters a research and conservation effort that has begun to rebuild the public image of the cheetah in Namibia as well as the population of the species itself."

In 1999, National Geographic featured Marker’s program - “Cheetahs: Ghosts in the Grasslands,” and in 2000 Marker was recognized as one of Time Magazine's Heroes for the Planet.

Having worked with cheetahs since 1974, Marker set up the not-for-profit CCF in 1990, moving to Namibia to develop a permanent conservation research center for the wild cheetah. In 1992 the Cheetah Conservation Fund became a registered Namibian Trust.
CCF's ground-breaking activities are housed at their International Research and Education Center 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 center as well as a cheetah museum and education center.

Marker 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 at Oregon's Wildlife Safari in the USA.

Marker 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. Marker learned about the conflict between livestock farmers and cheetahs in Namibia, discovering that wild cheetahs needed help. For the next ten years she continued traveling 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, Marker 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.

The Purpose of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF)is to research and implement strategies for cheetah conservation in its natural habitat. From its Namibian base, CCF works with countries that have wild cheetah populations.


CCF works to:
. create and manage long-term conservation strategies for the cheetah throughout their range;
. develop and implement better livestock management practices, eliminating the need for ranchers to kill so many cheetah;
. conduct conservation education programs for local villagers, ranchers and school children; and
. continue intensive scientific research in cheetah genetics, biology and species survival.

This lecture is being sponsored by the World Studies Office at Marlboro College. It is free and open to the public. For more information on the event, (802) 251-7644. For more information on CCF contact Stella Capoccia, CCF New England at scapoccia@clarku.edu or 520-909-3781.

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