Laurie Marker, Cheetah Expert and Conversational Enthusiast

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Life’s Tough Media is pleased to announce the latest episode of our “Life’s Tough: Explorers are TOUGHER!” podcast series. Hosted by Richard Wiese—explorer extraordinaire and President of The Explorers Club—this episode features Laurie Marker, a research scientist and boots-on-the-ground conservationist, Oxford-trained zoologist, author, cheetah veterinary health expert, goat farmer, dog breeder, cattle rancher, educator, inspirational thought leader, public speaker and policy maker who travels nonstop on her mission to help save the world’s fastest mammal.

This “Life’s Tough: Explorers are TOUGHER!” episode released on March 25th, 2021 and is now available on all major podcast networks under the Podcast Channel “Life’s Tough: Explorers are Tougher”.

Cheetahs are the fastest land animals in the world, going from 0 – 70 mph in 3 seconds. However, they are also the most endangered African cat. A century ago, there were 100,000 cheetahs in the wild, and today, there are fewer than 7,500. Laurie grew up in Northern California, where she first realized she had a love for animals. She eventually ended up working at the Wildlife Safari in Oregon for 16 years, taking her love for animals into a career path. Today Laurie is as comfortable trekking through the bush in search of cheetahs as she is briefing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, DC.

Laurie graduated from Oxford University with a doctorate in Zoology and became an A.D. White Professor-at-Large with Cornell University. She was Executive Director of the Center for New Opportunities in Animal Health Sciences at the Smithsonian Institution and after a trip to Namibia, Africa in 1977, Laurie realized thousands of cheetahs were getting killed by farmers. Compelled to do something to put an end to that, she started collaborating with other scientists to create a safe space for captive cheetahs.

Cheetah Conservation Fund

Laurie sold all her possessions and started the Cheetah Conservation Fund, the longest running and most successful cheetah conservation program in Africa. Laurie has pioneered research, established conservation models, and created cooperative alliances on behalf of the cheetah that never existed. Under her leadership, CCF has grown into a world-class cheetah research, education, and conservation institution. The town of Otjiwarongo, where the Cheetah Conservation Fund is based, is now known as “The Cheetah Capital of the World.”

Laurie’s crowning achievement was changing Namibia’s attitude towards its native wildlife. She convinced the local livestock farmers to stop trapping and killing cheetahs as their primary means of predation control, and in 1994, Laurie decided to import a rare breed of dogs—the Anatolian shepherd—to be placed with herds of livestock to help protect them from predators. This shepherd is known for its giant size and extremely loud bark. The Cheetah Conservation Fund Livestock Guarding Dog has proven to be one of the most popular and successful conflict-mitigation measures ever developed.

Laurie was declared a Hero for the Planet by TIME Magazine in 2001 and awarded the Tech Museum of Innovation’s Intel Environmental Prize as well as the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement.

Join Richard and Laurie for a lively chat about her work in Namibia with the exotic cheetahs that have become like family to her. 


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