COLORADO SPRINGS — A renowned cheetah expert made a rare appearance at Pikes Peak Community College to discuss the Illegal Wildlife Trade of Cheetahs.

Founder and Executive Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) since 1990, Dr. Laurie Marker spoke in a forum open to the public on April 14. The public was given the opportunity to hear about the plight of the cheetah and CCF efforts to save cheetah populations in Namibia and Somaliland.

“She’s the one who started all of this. It meant the world,” Marysol Galke, a student at Pikes Peak Community College stated. “It was really cool too, seeing what they do… she definitely led a whole generations of work and change which is amazing.”

CCF was launched in Otjiwarongo, Namibia, the “Cheetah Capital of the World” with a mission of creating a permanent place for cheetahs on Earth. Marker is developing a second Cheetah Centre in Somaliland to support East African populations and serve as a base for CCF’s project to combat the illegal wildlife trade in cubs.

Marker is a conservation scientist with more than 45 years of experience creating conservation strategies for cheetahs. These methods include specializing in human-wildlife conflict, illegal wildlife trade, human livelihoods and captive breeding. She earned her DPhil in Zoology from the University of Oxford, United Kingdom. The degree is the Oxford equivalent of a PhD. Currently, she is a professor at Cornell University.

More than 150 research papers and five books have been published by Marker. In 2018, she co-edited and coauthored one of the most comprehensive textbooks on the species called, ‘CHEETAHS: Biology & Conservation.’

Marker is a member of IUCN’s Cat Specialist Group and Panthera’s Cat Advisory Council, and serves as a Scientific Advisor for the Mountain Lion Foundation. In 2021, she was named a Founding Trustee for the Global Fund for the Arabian Leopard, a quasi governmental organization for big cat conservation based in Saudi Arabia.