What We Do
CCF's dynamic programs get results
CCF's work to save the wild cheetah and its wilderness habitat is successful because it works on all aspects of the cheetah's plight, through education and public outreach, applied conservation biology and management, public policy, and science and research.While CCF's main headquarters are in Namibia (SW Africa) -- the country with the largest number of wild cheetah, its reach and vision are worldwide. In addition to its own programme in Kenya, CCF has close links and assists in training and sharing programme successes with other countries where cheetah live, including Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Iran and Algeria. CCF's international programme includes distributing CCF materials, lending resources and support, and providing training through Africa and the rest of the world. . Efforts are currently underway in Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Iran to develop new conservation programs or support existing cheetah conservation efforts.
CCF's strategic vision for the next decade will facilitate the organization's ability to adapt to changing conditions and prioritise staff and resource allocation. This vision will integrate existing research information and lessons-learned from previous conservation efforts into enhanced and wider-reaching conservation programs.
Here is a brief overview of main program areas, followed by a more detailed explanation of our science program.
CCF's current conservation science programs include combinations of in-situ and ex-situ conservation efforts. Current efforts emphasize the following:
- Cheetah biomedical, morphological, reproductive and genetic status in Namibia: CCF examines animals captured by farmers, blood and tissue samples are collected, and a standard suite of morphological measurements and biomedical assessments performed and recorded. Animals are marked with ear and pit tags and released with the farmer's permission. Continuing research provides the basis of a disease surveillance system for cheetahs in Namibia and elsewhere, as catastrophic disease is a major threat to the long-term viability of cheetah populations.
- Cheetah habitat use, home range and demographic rate: Range-wide population estimates for cheetahs are critical for their conservation, but they are particularly difficult to study due to their highly secretive nature and large home ranges. CCF's research includes developing techniques to employ advanced census methodologies such as photographic captures and DNA-based captures.
- Ecological monitoring of game species through game counts on CCF farms and throughout the Waterberg Conservancy. Loss of prey base is a direct threat to the viability of cheetah populations; understanding local ungulate populations is critical for cheetah conservation in Namibia.
- Investigating human and wildlife conflict through collaboration with farmers and evaluating non-lethal predator management techniques at CCF's Model Farm.
- The Cheetah Studbook: Support and participation in ex-situ conservation strategies for cheetahs through maintaining the Cheetah Studbook, participation in the Genome Resource Bank and other research activities related to captive cheetahs.
- The CCF Bush Project: The thickening and multiplication of endemic bush is a desertification process that is a major environmental and economic concern for the Namibian government. This project aims to restore cheetah habitat by selectively harvesting invasive bush that is then converted into clean burning wood fuel. The project also seeks to empower Namibians through capacity buildling, and provide political leverage to implement sound conservation strategies.
CCF is committed to providing training and other opportunities for students, teachers and farmers throughout the cheetah's range and aims to expand its education outreach and capacity building though training courses and increased internships. Specific training includes conservation biology, natural resource management, appropriate land use, and livestock and wildlife management.
CCF's Education and Outreach staff take the message "We Can Live Together" to schools and communities throughout Namibia. In addition, our Research and Education Centre has what has been called the best, most comprehensive cheetah educational museum in the world, so that the many daily visitors to CCF's headquarters can go on a self-guided educational exploration of the cheetah's history, range, biology, characteristics, conservation status and issues.
Training and Capacity-Building in Namibia
Farmers' training courses provide participants with an understanding of the economic and ecological value of predators as well as their behavior and ecology; to train participants to correctly identify causes of livestock losses; to instill a desire to protect and integrate predators into their farming and conservancy areas; to provide basic administrative and wildlife management skills; to teach livestock husbandry and management to reduce losses to predators, disease, poisonous plants, and birthing problems; and to emphasize the importance of their participation in the success of their conservancies.
To help build Namibia's institutional capacity, in part, through a partnership with the University of Namibia, CCF hosts Master's degree students in Conservation Biology. CCF also trains a number of University of Namibia and Polytechnic of Namibia undergraduate students each year, some in collaboration with other partner organizations. Capacity building efforts for Namibia represent the best hope for addressing emergent conservation problems.
CCF's conservation programs since 1990 have emphasized community-based conservation efforts aimed specifically at livestock farmers. Implementation of farmer outreach programs was intended to reduce cheetah mortality on commercial farms and associated research programs were designed to allow opportunistic data collection on individual animals that would have been otherwise destroyed. This approach has been highly successful: CCF has grown dramatically, new facilities constructed, professional collaborations established, research papers written and published. CCF has gained substantial international recognition. More importantly, by several measures, cheetah removals have declined and farmer attitudes improved.
Livestock Guarding Dog Program
Commercial farmers in Namibia were in need of more protection for their cattle and other small stock (goats, sheep) for which they earn a living. As a direct response to this need, CCF introduced a special guard dog program. We breed Anatolian Shepherds, place them with farmers, supply free medical care for the dogs and train farmers in the best dog care and support. These wonderful working dogs then live with the herds 24 hours a day, scaring away predators such as the cheetah. What a success this program continues to be! To-date we have placed over 200 dogs and can report a dramatic impact on lowering the number of wild cheetahs trapped and killed in Namibia.
CCF Membership in the Waterberg Conservancy
Healthy wildlife populations are promoted through the development of commercial and communal conservancies. CCF supports policies that promote sustainable utilization of game and development of responsible eco-tourism. CCF provides substantial technical support for the Waterberg Conservancy (game count analysis, economic and tourism planning development etc.). The establishment of conservancies alleviates a number of sources of threat to cheetah populations, in particular the discouragement of game farms, which continue to be a cheetah mortality sink, and will result in lower human-caused cheetah mortality, less habitat fragmentation and loss, as well as a more extensive prey base for cheetahs.
Through participation in government forums and organizations including the Namibian Large Carnivore Management Association (LCMAN) and the Conservancy Association of Namibia (CANAM).
CCF's Executive Director, Dr. Laurie Marker, is a core members in the Cat Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the world's largest scientific and management organization for nature conservation. In addition, CCF advises the US Fish and Wildlife Service on the status of the cheetah and its listing on the CITES index (Committee on International Trade in Endangered Species).
CCF's international programme includes distributing CCF materials, lending resources and support, and providing training through Africa and the rest of the world.
Laurie Marker and other CCF staff give public lectures and presentations in Europe and North America and are open to sponsorship that allows them to do them anywhere! Laurie is an accomplished speaker who has brought the cheetah's message to millions of people over the past 25 years and still does it annually through her tours and lecture trips.
Volunteers are an important part of CCF's success-they have helped us build CCF into what it is today. CCF Volunteers often go on to become long-term members of the CCF Team worldwide. For many years Earthwatch Institute has supported CCF's work by sending us outstanding volunteers from around the world. Earthwatchers come for a minimum of 2 weeks. To apply visit Earthwatch's website: www.earthwatch.org. There's always a long waiting list as CCF is very popular but don't let that put you off! In addition to the Earthwatch Volunteer Program CCF also has its own program. For more details see 'Volunteer Program'. Volunteering doesn't stop (or begin!) with visiting and working at CCF Namibia. It can mean being a Chapter Head or doing a fundraiser-wherever you live and work!
CCF's Newsletters, Mailing List, Email Sign Up & CCF Chapters
Dr. Laurie Marker's News from the Field are informative E-Letters, produced (usually) quarterly. To get on our mailing list, click here. If you would like to become part of our new Email Sign Up to receive information about CCF in the future by email, go to Contacting CCF and sign up! And finally, if you are interested in helping form a Chapter, let us know!