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Join big cat crusader in race to save the cheetah

Auckland City Council

Media release

9 July 2008

Join big cat crusader in race to save the cheetah

Big cat lovers have a rare opportunity to hear Annie Beckhelling, founder of South Africa’s Cheetah Outreach, speak at a special fundraising evening at Auckland Zoo’s Old Elephant House on Friday, 18 July (5.30pm to 7.30pm).

The passionate crusader for cheetahs is in New Zealand for the first time to highlight the plight of the world’s fastest land mammal, which in South Africa now numbers less than 1500 animals.

Ms Beckhelling says the biggest threat to cheetahs, both in South Africa and Namibia (where the largest population resides), is loss of habitat to commercial farming, and subsequent conflict with farmers.

“Most livestock farmers trap, poison or shoot cheetahs in an attempt to protect their stock. But this is not necessary, as stock can be protected very successfully by using Anatolian guard dogs. Partnerships, locally and globally, are really the key to saving this species. I hope that by learning more about the cheetah, New Zealanders will be inspired to help make sure their grandchildren live in a world where this magnificent big cat still runs free,” says Ms Beckhelling.

The Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund has been supporting Cheetah Outreach for the past three years. The Cape Town-based trust, set up by Ms Beckhelling in 1996, has taken on the roles of educator and fundraiser for the Southern African cheetah. Its work encompasses everything from school and community education to coordinating the Anatolian Livestock Guard Dog Project. The trust also works closely with De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre – a cheetah haven and breeding centre near Johannesburg.

Auckland Zoo’s male cheetahs Anubis and Osiris, now three years old, were born at De Wildt before going on to Cheetah Outreach’s Stellenbosch property. They were reared under its Ambassador Training Programme before being relocated here in April 2006.

Tickets to Annie Beckhelling’s Cheetah Outreach presentation are $10 per person (plus $2 booking fee). The price includes a complimentary glass of wine. Tickets can be purchased online at www.aucklandzoo.co.nzor from the zoo’s information centre – phone 09 360 3805. All profits from the evening will go to the Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund, in support of Cheetah Outreach.

ENDS


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