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Leading conservation scientists awarded prestigious 2010 Tyler Environmental Prize
Date:4/1/2010

tee Chair Owen T. Lind, Professor of Biology, Baylor University. "They are living, breathing heroes of our environment and our animal species on earth."

Laurie Marker, Cheetah Conservation Fund

Laurie Marker has worked to protect the cheetahs from extinction for 36 years by studying their biology and environment and implementing various measures to minimize their conflict with people. She established the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in 1990 in Namibia to put these measures into place in the country with the largest population of wild cheetahs. Because most wild cheetahs live on livestock grazing lands, CCF provides farmers with methods to reduce cheetah predation on their livestock as well as the degradation of grazing land and wildlife habitat by invasive bush.

Marker understood that in order to save the endangered cat from extinction, she would have to get buy-in from the people with whom they share a habitat. Marker's group works to educate the general public about the importance of predators in a working ecosystem and has initiated groundbreaking projects, including the breeding of guard dogs for livestock herds to reduce cheetah predation, and another that creates an economic enterprise to clear invasive thorny bushes and process them into wood fuel briquettes (known as Bushblok).

These projects are creating jobs, building a constituency among rural Namibians for cheetah conservation, and, at the same time, restoring and protecting thousands of hectares of farmland, livestock pastures and wildlife habitat.

Marker's nomination for the Tyler Prize was initiated by a former U.S. Ambassador to Namibia, Jeffrey Bader. In his letter of nomination, Bader called Marker "literally and figuratively a force of nature," describing the work of the Cheetah Conservation Fund as "the most successful project I have ever seen to protect the world's biodiversity."

Stuart Pimm, Duke University

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Contact: Michelle Geis
mgeis@burnesscommunications.com
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Burness Communications
Source:Eurekalert

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