Cheetah Conservancy Fund Stops in the Desert

Dr. Laurie Marker speaks on Africa’s most endangered big cat



Johari, the cheetah, with Dr. Laurie Marker (right) at the private Rancho Mirage home of Roswitha Smale.

Photo by Ann Greer

 

Conservationists and zoos such as the Living Desert work together to ensure the survival of species that may otherwise become extinct.

After an engagement at the Living Desert, Dr. Laurie Marker from the Cheetah Conservation Fund spoke at the private Rancho Mirage home of Roswitha Smale on the plight of the cheetah, Africa’s most endangered big cat.

“We’ve lost over 90 percent of the world’s wild population in the past 100 years. And if we don’t act now, we might lose the cheetah forever,” Marker says.

She added how impressed she was with how healthy the cheetahs at the Living Desert are. Marker works closely not only with the Living Desert, but also with zoos and their breeding programs around the world.

Smale hosted the late afternoon fundraiser for the local chapter of Dr. Marker’s Cheetah Conservation Fund. Living Desert board members Sandy Woodson and Mary Lou Solomon were among the listeners.

After tasty treats from Jake’s Palm Springs, guests gathered outside to not only learn about the cheetah, but to see, watch and hear Johari, a beautiful 5-year-old female cheetah from the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park.

The 85-pound Johari came with her constant companion, a 5-year-old Anatolian Shepherd canine who weighs in at 135 pounds. It was thrilling to hear Johari purr with contentment. The dog is dominant, and as long as the dog is calm, then of course Johari stays calm and doesn’t get nervous around people. They were accompanied by three “handlers”, who stroked the cheetah and gave her little bits of lean meat to eat.

Known as the world’s fastest land animal, the cheetah can reach 60 to 70 mph in as little as four seconds. There are only 10,000 left in the wild, and approximately 1,600 in captivity.

“The cheetahs are running the most important race of their lives – survival,” Marker tells the crowd. “We’re based in Namibia, where the world’s largest population of wild cheetahs lives, and everything we do is aimed at creating a thriving ecosystem so that cheetahs and humans can live together.”

Visit www.cheetah.org for more information.

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