Last year the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) declared 4 December as International Cheetah Day, to raise awareness about the plight of the most endangered catin Africa and Iran.
The wild cheetah population has decreased 90% in just over 100 years, from 100,000 in 44 countries at end of the 19th century to approximately 10,000 today found in 23 African countries, with a small group (approximately 70) in Iran.
The cheetah is not only the fastest, but the oldest of all the big cats. Despite its tenacity, cheetahs could be gone forever in less than 20 years, largely due to human conflict and habitat destruction.
When Dr Laurie Marker, founder and executive director of the CCF, first arrived in Namibia in 1977, he quickly learned that the most urgent need for cheetahs was very different from what he’d supposed. Namibian farmers, fearing for their small livestock herds, regarded the cheetah as a threat to their livelihood.
Cheetahs were considered vermin, pests that should be shot on sight. The goal became to work with farmers to find a way to stop the killing, to help them see that cheetahs can live side-by-side with humans, in a way that both may thrive.
International Cheetah Day is a celebration of the magnificence of the cheetah. If you have ever thought about helping to conserve these endangered cats, here are a few cheetah conservation projects in Africa where your work will be greatly valued.
Cheetah conservation projects in Africa
- Karoo Cheetah and Wildlife Research Volunteer– Eastern Cape, South Africa. Experience a truly rewarding conservation programme in the stunning South African bush! Working with local ecologists, wildlife volunteers undertake pioneering research and close-encounter activities to aid conservation and animal reintroduction in the Great Karoo, and may assist with community programmes. Research predatory habits of Cheetahs, get close with Vervet Monkeys and learn ancient tracking skills!
- Cheetah and Wildlife rehabilitation – Near Port Elizabeth. An unique opportunity where wildlife volunteers work on Game Reserve Conservation Initiatives and up close and hands on with the Africa’s amazing wildlife in the breeding/rehabilitation programme – including animals like Cheetah, Hyena, Servals and Caracals. Volunteers walk out with the Cheetah in the reserve – a experience you will never forget!
- Big Cat and Endangered Wildlife Centre – Hoedspruit, South Africa.
An exciting opportunity to work hands on with some of Africa’s most endangered wildlife including Cheetahs, Painted Dogs, African Wild Cats and many other animals at this leading sanctuary and breeding centre in Hoedspruit. Wildlife volunteers work with the dedicated staff in all aspects of wildlife care and rehabilitation, as well as being involved in any wildlife veterinary care or hand rearing of animals that may be needed.