Cheetah awards evening celebrates nearly three decades of dedication to conservation
The Cheetah Conservation Fund reach another milestone when it presented its conservation awards for the 21st year running at its annual gala dinner. This event has blossomed into the local showcase for conservation excellence, putting the spotlight on those individuals and organisations who have contributed most for protection of the cheetah in the wild.
This year’s Cheetah Conservationist of the Year is Mary Kruger and her family for their support to the fund. The Long-standing Service to Cheetah Conservation award went to Armas Shaanika for his dedication to the fund’s livestock guard dog programme. The award for the best Cheetah Conservation Programme was received by the South African group, Cheetah Outreach, and the Long-term Conservation Achievement award by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature.
The gala dinner and awards took place on 12 July 2019 at the Windhoek Country Club where tourism celebrity Jackie Asheeke guided the proceedings as Madam of Ceremonies. The keynote address came from the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Hon Pohamba Shifeta, who sketched the relationship between conservation and the economy and what the Cheetah Conservation Fund has done to strengthen this link.
The Honourable Professor Peter Katjavivi, Speaker of the National Assembly and Chancellor of the Namibia University of Science and Technology, attended together with his wife, Jane Katjavivi. Professor Katjavivi is the fund’s international patron and Jane serves on its Namibian board. The event was also attended by board members and trustees of the Cheetah Conservation Fund USA.
Guest speaker Deon Cilliers, a conservation biologist from Cheetah Outreach in South Africa, spoke about his work on farmer/predator conflict mitigation. He manages the Cheetah Outreach Livestock Guard Dog Project that works to reduce predator conflict on South African farmlands. This project was launched with the assistance of Cheetah Conservation Fund. Deon is a trusted and respected conservationist who have won many hearts for cheetahs among South Africa’s farming communities.
The fund’s Executive Director, Dr Laurie Marker, a conservation icon herself, delivered the 2019 State of the Cheetah address, underscoring the need to protect Namibia’s natural resources and foster an economic system in which humans and livestock not only coexist with wildlife, but thrive in a healthy, bio-diverse landscape.
2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the fund’s Life Science Conservation Genetics Laboratory and the 25th anniversary for its Livestock Guard Dog breeding programme.
Since 1990, the fund has worked continuously for the protection of the cheetah in the wild and on Namibian farms. The fund is noted for its innovative and progressive approach to conservation. The annual gala dinner and awards celebrate the iconic cheetah through the dedication of the fund to ensure its survival in the wild.
Caption: From the left: Jackie Asheeke, Madam of Ceremonies, Dr. Laurie Marker, Executive Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund, Chris Weaver from the Word Wildlife Fund for Nature, Armas Shaanika, the Guard Dog caretaker, Deon Cilliers from Cheetah Outreach, Mary Kruger, the 2019 Conservationist of the Year and Professor Peter Katjavivi.