It was only 2 years ago, on 3 April 2011, that the Cheetah Conservation Fund lost its most famous ambassador cheetah, Chewbaaka.
Chewbaaka was brought to CCF in July of 1995. He was only a few weeks old when he arrived, starved and close to death. Dr. Laurie Marker took on the challenge of nursing the little cub to health, and the bond between them grew stronger and stronger as the years passed.
Because he was orphaned so young, Chewbaaka would never be able to survive independently in the wild. And yet, as an ambassador animal, Chewbaaka did more than any other cheetah probably could to save the species in the wild.
Chewbaaka became a constant companion as Dr. Laurie Marker educated farmers and school learners and the people of Namibia about the plight of the cheetah. People who met Chewbaaka did not easily forget him. And meeting a cheetah “up close,” was often just the catalyst needed to change the hearts of those who feared the cheetah as a potential threat to their livelihood. Farmers who used to shoot cheetahs on sight began to lay down their weapons and work to save them.
Staff, visitors and volunteers to CCF’s International Research and Education Centre who met Chewbaaka often remarked on his regal bearing. His ability to connect with humans in such a way that they wanted to learn more was uncanny. Over time, Chewbaaka has become a touchstone, a tangible symbol of CCF’s vision of a world where humans and cheetahs can thrive together. That’s why we choose to remember him.
Today marks the second anniversary of Chewbaaka’s death, and the 23rd anniversary of Dr. Marker’s arrival in Namibia. To honor Chewbaaka’s memory, CCF will be dedicating a garden at the International Research and Conservation Centre in Namibia that will be known as Chewbaaka’s Garden, and will feature a statue of cubs at play.