Feb 26

We’re thrilled to kick off our first Arkive’s Conservation Heroes series with the incredible Dr. Laurie Marker, a woman who founded the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Namibia, Africa dedicated to restoring the wild cheetah. In this interview, Dr. Marker shares why she started a nonprofit, an average day-in-the-life at CCF, and her one dream for cheetahs. What is it? You’ll have to read on to find out! Dr  Laurie Marker and CCF Resident Cheetahs Finally, Dr. Marker and CCF have offered loads of ways that you can support the conservation of cheetahs right this very minute. If Dr. Marker’s story inspires you (or you just love big cats!), please click on the “Wish List” link here at the end of the interview and pledge to take one conservation action to support Cheetah Conservation Fund. Together, we can rally around the world to support conservation!wish list button

So, after working with cheetahs since 1974, you finally moved from the US to Namibia in 1990 to develop the CCF base. What was it that inspired you to save cheetahs over any other species?

When I started working with cheetahs in 1974, nobody knew anything about them and they weren’t breeding well anywhere. There weren’t many cheetahs in captivity and people were taking them out of the wild; wild numbers were declining. Questions I had helped us understand not only how special the animal was but also understand the basic biology, the genetic makeup, and the population of each individual. I’m still fascinated by cheetahs and trying to find out more each day about how we can save them.

Cheetah photo

A curious juvenile cheetah

Everyone knows that the cheetah is the fastest land mammal on the planet, can you tell us any other interesting facts?

Well, cheetahs are very wonderful in the way they run; every part of their body is built for speed. Their semi non-retractable claws are very usable as cleats for traction running. Moreover, they are very aerodynamic with their small head and enlarged arteries, lungs, and heart. They’ve got a very flexible backbone and, as they run and hunt, only one paw touches the ground at any point in their stride, but there’s two points in the stride when no paws touch the ground. They just keep going and their tail is like a rudder for balance to stabilize and go around sharp curves rapidly so they don’t roll over and spin out.

Cheetah mid-sprint

Your recent call to arms was extremely inspiring, how does CCF intend to ‘save the cheetah from extinction’?

I would say the next step is get more and more people engaged and actually scale up the programs that are already successful. There are only 10,000 cheetahs left in the world so our strategies rely on maintaining them in Namibia which has the largest remaining population. We need to provide economic alternatives to the farming communities, so that they find the cheetah as an economic friend to them versus a loss of their livestock. We’ve created a program that I call “Future Farmers of Africa” where in Namibia, we have integrated programs of wildlife, livestock and grazing lands throughout most of the areas where cheetahs are found. So there is a political landscape of trying to help guide policies in these rural African communities, helping support capacity building and training more and more not only good farmers, but good conservation scientists in Africa as well. Raising awareness in our western world where people sometimes have the disposable incomes that Africa does not have, and helping them realize that potentially their assistance is going to actually gain them a lot by helping get Africa out of poverty and saving the cheetah at the same time, is a focus as well.

Dr. Marker working on cheetah in field

Dr. Marker working on cheetah in field (Photo courtesy of CCF)

 What has been your best moment since starting the Cheetah Conservation Fund?

Probably one of the highlights right now is the fact that our organization that I started 25 years ago is a quarter of a century old at this point. We have doubled the Namibian cheetah population and I’ve got programs going throughout most of the cheetah range countries. Conservation scientists are aware, the governments are aware. So a good moment only means I have more to do to have another good moment, because that good moment really lasts about a second.

 What is an average day for you at the CCF base in Namibia?

We’ve got a lot of animals since we have a sanctuary so there are orphan cats that need to be cared for every day and we have a lot of school children that come in regularly. We have livestock guarding dogs and goats which are breeding; they need a lot of care. Farmers might also call you up and need a lot of help that could take a whole day or more than a day then your whole day changes. We’ve got a wilding program going on which asks where is the cheetah today. You’re tracking it and maybe they’ve killed a kudu so we say let’s go find its kill and track down what the habitat looks like. At a community level, probably spending your time getting ready to go into a community so that you’re prepared with the kinds of paperwork they need or slide presentation. You make sure that your pictures and the story you’re telling is something they can fully relate to when it comes to livestock care. So I would say that there’s international communications that go on on a regular basis and you know we’re a hopping crowd so I’ve got a very good staff of professional biologists, ecologists, veterinarians and geneticists all working about 100 miles an hour.

CCF Facilities

The Cheetah Conservation Fund Centre in Namibia, Africa (Photo courtesy of CCF)

Your story is extremely inspirational and encouraging for aspiring conservationists. Do you any advice to someone that would like to start their own charity or conservation project?

I ask myself why did I start a charity to begin with? I think that joining partnerships with organizations that are doing conservation work is really important. Sometimes you just need to jump off the deep end if you have an idea and know that potentially you might fall, but you can pick yourself back up and figure out what it is you’re going to do. Running a conservation organization deals with a business. It’s running a business from a perspective of getting funding and utilizing that donor’s funding properly so that you can show the results from that donation. My one dream is to see the cheetah living on earth for future generations and that’s going to take everybody cracking down and changing the way that they live and think. So there’s a whole behavior change around the entire world that has to be encouraged and our motto for the next 25 years is “Change the World to Save the Cheetah”.

Suzi Ezsterhas

Dr. Marker feeding a cheetah (Photo courtesy of Suzi Ezsterhas)

How can the general public help your organization and cheetahs as species?

I would say go to our website, give us a call, send an email, but we actively encourage people to take an active role in doing something and we need funding to be able to do the work that we need to do. Adopt one of our orphan cheetahs, sponsor one of our livestock guarding dogs so that we can keep doing more. We’ve got programs that are successful and we need the funding to scale them up and we need people to be aware of the fact that the cheetah is Africa’s most endangered big cat. We need to hold on to what we have and try to grow those populations.

From reading about Heroes to becoming one yourself

Inspired to take action to support Dr. Marker and the cheetahs of Africa? Please click on the button below to make a pledge today to take conservation action – actions that range from sharing Dr. Marker’s story socially to help spread the word further, to donating or even planning to volunteer time with Dr. Marker at the CCF centre in Namibia! Every action matters, please consider making a pledge today! 

Take Action

wish list button

Feb 23

What makes for successful conservation? Sometimes, it takes a Hero.

For the past 11 years, Arkive has strived to build an unparalleled collection of the world’s best images and films of wildlife and habitats around the globe. Currently, Arkive shares the story of over 16,000 species with over 100,000 stunning photographs and film clips from our generous media contributors such as the BBC, Disney, Smithsonian Institute and over 6,000 enormously talented independent filmmakers and photographers.

But there is another side of conservation that has yet to have its story told on Arkive. Our team is privileged to work with inspiring scientists, researchers, educators, and conservationists around the globe who have dedicated their lives to the conservation of nature both on a local and global scale. From creative and powerful cheetah conservation practices to independent filmmakers who trudge the Everglades on the weekends to capture rare and powerful footage, there are hundreds (maybe even thousands!) of conservation stories to share from the Heroes at the frontlines who are accomplishing measurable advances for conservation.

From reading about Heroes to becoming one yourself

Arkive is proud to present the official launch of the Arkive Conservation Heroes series. Over the next four weeks, we will feature four Heroes making incredible strides for species and habitats in their part of the world. Even more, each story in the Arkive Conservation Heroes series ends with a “wish list” of actual actions you, yes you, can take or pledge to take to support each Hero. We are asking each reader to pledge to at least one wish list action which range from sharing a Heroes story socially to help spread the word further to donating or even planning to volunteer time with the hero him or herself!

The first Arkive Conservation Heroes series will launch this week with the following incredible line-up:

Dr. Laurie Marker

Dr. Laurie Marker and CCF Resident Cheetahs Resize

 (Photo courtesy of CCF)

Dr. Laurie Marker is the founder and executive director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) dedicated to saving the cheetah in the wild. Dr. Marker helped to develop the US and international captive cheetah breeding program. Her past work includes collaborating with the National Zoo and National Cancer Institute, to help identify the cheetah’s lack of genetic variation.

Dr. Alessandro Catenazzi

Ale 4

Dr. Alessandro Catenazzi is an assistant professor at the University of Southern Illinois-Carbondale in the zoology department who, along with his team, recently discovered a new species of water frog, Telmatobius ventriflavum, in central Peru! His current research focuses on the systematics and conservation of Neotropical amphibians and reptiles, and the ecological dimensions of biodiversity.

Subir Chowfin

subir chowfin (1)

Subir Chowfin , is a wildlife researcher and a local hero for the region of Uttarakhand. He and his mother Christine Margaret Chowfin worked to forever protect 450 hectares of local forest land on the Gadoli and Manda Khal Fee Simple Estates in India that is home to as many as 78 species of flowering plants, birds, and mammals including leopards. The next step for Subir and his mother is to set up a Field Centre for Ecology and Habitat Restoration on these estates.

Rich & Richard Kern

Kerns promo portrait Resize

Dynamic father/son duo, Rich & Richard Kern, are co-founders of Odyssey Earth producing stunning films of Florida wildlife and ecosystems. Their goal? To bring the wild of the Florida wilderness to school children to hopefully inspire the next generation of conservationists in the sunshine state.

The Arkive Team is incredibly excited to bring these stories to you and even more excited to see how our incredible community of over 1 million monthly Arkive visitors can come together to take real action in support of these Heroes. To start, help  support these amazing individuals by sharing this blog via Facebook or Twitter and follow #ArkConservationHeroes to stay up-to-date!

William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA

 

Dec 25

Today is Christmas, the holiday that children around the world have been anxiously awaiting for including the arrival of man in the red suit himself, Santa Claus!

In honor of Christmas, we’re presenting a WILD twist of Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas” story. Enjoy!

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring not even a mouse

Woodland jumping mouse photo

Perhaps not the typical rodent of lore, the cute puffball known as the woodland jumping mouse is one amazing mouse; its elongated hind legs allow it to hop up to 3 meters (9 feet) at a time!

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.

Pitcher plant photo

The uniquely shaped and vibrant pitcher plant could easily be mistaken for a child’s stocking. Don’t be deceived however, this delicate plant is actually of the carnivorous variety with the ability to secrete an acidic solution.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.

Koala photo

This snoozing koala might look snug as a bug in a rug, and you would be right; koalas are primarily nocturnal. The koala is often mistakenly called a koala bear even though it is not related to bears, but rather belongs to the marsupial family.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer

Reindeer photo

While reindeer might not have shiny red noses like Rudolph, they still are an extraordinary species that can survive the extreme conditions of the north. Its specifically designed hooves serve as snowshoes and also aid in cracking ice when searching for food.

More rapid than eagles, his coursers they came, and he whistled and shouted and called them by name.

Bald eagle photo

The regal bald eagle might not be as swift as Santa’s reindeer, but it is an enduring raptor that can live up to 28 years. Its name is certainly a misnomer, since the bald eagle sports a full set of white feathers upon its head.

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard on his chin was white as the snow.

Emperor tamarin photo

While Santa’s beard might be more grandiose, one cannot deny that the emperor tamarin has a truly unique and elegant beard. Much like St. Nick, himself the emperor tamarin has a sweet tooth with a diet that includes fruits and nectar.

He had a broad face and a little round belly, that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

Big-belly seahorse photo

With a belly to rival that of Santa himself, the big-belly seahorse has a large protruding stomach. Like other seahorses, it lacks scales and instead has skin stretched over bony plates. Additionally, much like the man in red, the big belly seahorse is most active at dusk and at night.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

Spear thistle photo

The wondrous and colorful spear thistle is noted for its purple flower that does not appear until its second year of growth. The fluffy orb-like seedlings or down are functionally designed to aid in wind dispersal.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight — “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Merry Christmas from the Arkive Team to you!

William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA 

Nov 26

In the United States, folks are gearing up for a major meal tomorrow centered around one, iconic bird … the turkey! The theme of Thanksgiving is just that, to give thanks. So we’d like to shed some light on turkey species around the globe and give a little thanks for the great diversity of species we have on Earth. Some species you know and some we bet you’ve never seen before.

Any of these turkey’s ring a bell?

Ocellated turkey

Ocellated turkey photo

Check out this beauty! The ocellated turkey is a conspicuous, vibrant-colored bird that can be easily distinguished from one of its closest turkey cousins, the larger and less colorful North American wild turkey.

Turkey-chick

Turkey-chick photo

Maybe not a turkey that you are familiar with, but a “turkey” nonetheless! The peculiarly named turkey-chick is a geophyte; a plant that can survive periods of unfavorable conditions due to an underground food-storage organ. One of these would be mighty helpful during the average Thanksgiving Day meal, wouldn’t you agree?

Turkey vulture

Turkey vulture photo

So a turkey vulture isn’t exactly the same as the typical bird that comes to mind on Thanksgiving, but at least this turkey has feathers! Did you know that flocks of tens of thousands turkey vulture migrate together from North America to South America each year? Imagine a roost of that size for Thanksgiving dinner!

Wild turkey

Wild turkey photo

A much more familiar turkey, the wild turkey, which is the wild relative of one of only two domesticated birds to have originated in North America, the wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is one of the largest and most distinctive members of the Galliformes (a group of game birds which includes grouse, pheasants and partridges.

We hope you enjoyed our mini-turkey tour and from all of us at Arkive, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Ari Pineda, Program Coordinator, Wildscreen USA

May 11

In celebration of Mother’s Day in the UK, we highlighted some of the most caring mothers in the natural world. To get a different perspective, for Mother’s Day in the USA we wanted to feature wild moms who just really need a break (and I think we can all relate!).

Do any of these situations below sound familiar to you?

Personal time just doesn’t exist.

Chimpanzee photo

“Can I just take a bath in peace? Would that be so hard?”

It’s truly amazing how persistent children can be when asking for something they really want.

Japanese macaque photo

“I swear, if you ask me one more time to listen to the Frozen soundtrack, I’m gonna ground you.”

Gathering the whole crew for soccer/football/dance is an Olympic sport.

Rock hyrax photo

“Mooooom, Billy is touching me! Make him stop! And he wasn’t groomed today so he smells! And how come Bobby gets the front seat?”

Keeping children fed and satisfied can be a full-time job in itself.

King penguin photo

“Mom, I’m huuuungry. There’s nothing to eat in this colony. Moooom, can you please get me something to eat, pleeease?”

That moment when your child unexpectedly decides to make a run for it.

Lion photo

“You’d better turn your little tushy around and get right back here, mister. Stop, stop running. Can you just, please, STOP!”

Disciplining isn’t fun for either of you.

Tiger photo

“If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 1,000 times…your brother ISN’T a chew toy!”

But in the end, there are the moments that make it all worth it…and then some!

Cheetah photo

“Mom, have I told you lately that you’re my favorite?”

Do you know a mom that could use a break this Mother’s Day?  Why not share this blog with them for a good laugh! And to all you moms out there, this one is for you!

North American porcupine

Happy Mother’s Day!

Liana Vitali, Education & Outreach Manager, Wildscreen USA

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