Share

International cheetah conservation leader to give talk at Wild Wonders ranch in Bonsall

Laurie Marker, executive director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia.
Laurie Marker, executive director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia, will speak Friday at Wild Wonders in Bonsall.
(Courtesy of Cheetah Conservation Fund)

Cheetah Conservation Fund’s Laurie Marker will talk about the fund’s recent reintroduction of cheetahs to India

For most of the past 20 years, cheetahs and cheetah conservation have been at the forefront of the education and fundraising programs at Wild Wonders, a wildlife conservation and education center in Bonsall.

On Friday, Oct. 28, one of the world’s leading cheetah experts will be visiting the 5-acre ranch to talk about some of the recent successes she and others have made in their fight to save the vulnerable wild cat species. Laurie Marks, executive director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Namibia, will speak at the dinner fundraiser at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28. Tickets are $125 and all proceeds will go to the CCF.

According to the African Wildlife Foundation, there are only about 6,600 adult cheetahs left in the wild and only about 5 percent of their cubs survive to adulthood, due to hunting, loss of habitat and cub-smuggling for the exotic pet trade. But in recent years, the CCF has made some progress in reducing the cheetah death rate.

Just last month, the CCF and the Namibian government donated eight wild cheetahs to India for its Project Cheetah program. Wild cheetahs haven’t roamed India for more than 70 years. On Sept. 16, three male and five female adult cheetahs from Namibia were delivered to India’s new Kuno National Park wildlife sanctuary in the Madhya Pradesh region, where it’s hoped they will breed a new generation of Indian-born cheetahs.

Hasani, a male cheetah at Wild Wonders wildlife conservation and education center in Bonsall.
Hasani, a male cheetah photographed in 2021 at Wild Wonders wildlife conservation and education center in Bonsall.
(Eduardo Contreras/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Wild Wonders was founded in 1991 by wildlife biologist Jackie Navarro, a former educator at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Wild Wonders offers animal education programs at schools, parties and special events featuring its more than 100 animals from all over the world. Most of these creatures came to Wild Wonders as rescues or they were seized by or relinquished to state wildlife officials.

In the early 2000s, Navarro became aware of the plight of cheetahs and added them to the Wild Wonders collection so she could teach local residents about the challenges these cats face. Today, Wild Wonders has three cheetahs: 8-year-old Masika, 4-year-old Hasani, and 1-year-old Tavi.

At Friday’s event, which includes a barbecue dinner, tours and animal interactions, Marks will talk about CCF’s India reintroduction program; efforts to establish a cheetah conservation and rehab center in Somaliland that will house cheetahs rescued from the illegal pet trade; and a program to provide guard dogs to farmers to keep cheetahs away from their livestock.

Wild Wonders is at 5712 Vía Montellano, Bonsall. For tickets, call (760) 630-9230 or visit wildwonders.org/fundraiser-for-cheetah-conservation-fund/.


Advertisement