Laurie Marker | Cheetah Conservation Fund
Fellows work to maximize the impact of their ideas through design. They work through a systematic process driven by the five elements of scalability: real impact, big bang for the buck, lasting behavior change, easy replication, and the right path to scale. Fellows participate in the program for two years, working through several design iterations.
THE IDEA: Cheetah Conservation Fund
Making farmers thrive as cheetahs thrive: prevent predation, help farmers find profitable crops, and develop products from the by-products of restoring cheetah habitat
HOW IT WORKS
- Figure out what works for a given region
- Make friends with local farmers
- Teach them doable ways to protect their livestock
- Introduce profitable ways for farmers to manage wildlife, livestock, and predators as an integrated grassland system
- Provide access to markets for cheetah-friendly products
- Develop salable products from the byproducts of habitat restoration
- Use work with farmers as a platform for policy advocacy
THE PERSON: Laurie Marker
Laurie Marker is a wild-animal park manager turned PhD conservationist who cares about rural livelihoods
Laurie came to conservation through a circuitous route. She starting working a veterinary technician and eventually found herself running a wild animal park in the US. She fell in love with the cheetah, got herself a PhD on the subject, and in 1990 she moved to Namibia to set up the Cheetah Conservation Fund to make sure that the cheetah could thrive.
The cheetah is Africa’s most endangered big cat, due to loss of habitat and prey and conflict with livestock farmers. After studying the cheetah for more than 15 years, Laurie realized that the species needed serious attention if it was going to survive and in 1990 she moved to Namibia to set up the Cheetah Conservation Fund to come up with new conservation strategies. Working side-by-side with farmers, she came up with an array of techniques to protect cheetahs and safeguard livestock, and is now developing product to make profitably restore habitat by turning invasive thorn bushes into cooking fuel. Today, Laurie is teaching farmers throughout Africa how to thrive with cheetahs, extending the lesson from Namibia to save cheetahs throughout the continent.