Marker, Laurie

March 7, 2011, 10:41 am
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Laurie Marker with Chewbaaka, ambassador Cheetah at CCF. Source: Cristophe Lepetit

Laurie Marker is a mammalian zoologist, most noted for her research with the Cheetah species. She is founder and Executive Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) with its headquarters in Namibia. Marker's groundbreaking research on the Cheetah species has included fundamental analysis on Cheetah genetics, morphology and behavior. Having worked with cheetahs since 1974, Marker established the not-for-profit CCF in 1990 and moved to Namibia to develop a permanent Conservation Research Centre for the wild cheetah. In 1992, CCF became a registered Namibian Trust. CCF’s groundbreaking activities are housed at their International Research and Education Centre in the main cheetah habitat of the country. In addition to fundamental research on the Cheetah species, Marker has developed innovative programs for conservation of the broader habitat that supports Cheetahs in Namibia; she has produced important new methods of engaging Namibian farmers and ranchers in integrating Cheetah conservation with their farming operations. In 2002, at 48, she earned a PhD from Oxford University. Her dissertation, Aspects of Cheetah [Acinonyx jubatus] Biology, Ecology and Conservation Strategies on Namibian Farmlands, is considered the last word on cheetahs.

Early work in the USA

Dr. Marker helped develop the U.S. and international captive program, establishing the most successful captive cheetah-breeding program in North America during her 16 years (1974-1988) at Oregon's Wildlife Safari in the USA. In the early 1980's, with collaborators at the National Zoo and National Cancer Institute, Dr. Marker worked on identifying the cheetah’s lack of genetic variation, leading to its reduced chance of survival. In 1988, in collaboration with these two institutions she became the Executive Director of the Center for New Opportunities in Animal Health Sciences, based at Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo. She continues to serve as a NOAHS Research Fellow. In 1988 Marker produced the International Cheetah Studbook, a registry of captive cheetahs worldwide, and continues to be the International Studbook Keeper.

Founding of the Cheetah Conservation Fund

caption Visitor area of CCF campus headquarters in Namibia.
Source: C.Michael Hogan

In 1990, Marker moved from the USA to Namibia to found the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF). This non-profit's goal is the development of a conservancy for cheetahs on Namibia's livestock farmlands in cooperation with farmers and local communities. Conservation of this last large habitat for cheetahs will determine if the species will survive for future generations. In addtion to protection of injured and trapped Cheetahs, Marker has been an innovator in protection of large amounts of Cheetah habitat, including direct ecological protection, but also including education and inducement of native Namibian farmers to conduct conservation measures that allow the Cheetah to coexist with native game as well as commercial livestock.

CCF has its principal research and operational programs centered in Namibia, but has addtional regional presence in Kenya; worldwide, there are administrative and fundraising activities of CCF that exist worldwide, with chief centres in the USA, United Kingdom, Netherlands, France, Germany and Japan.

Recognition and awards

caption Cheetah in characteristic playtree behaviour, CCF, Namibia.
Source: C.Michael Hogan
In 1996 Marker was appointed vice-chair of the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN) Species Survival Commission’s (SSC) Cat Specialist Group, and currently continues to serve as a member on the core management group.She has been recognised as one of Time Magazine’s Heroes for the Planet in 2000 and received the Zoological Society of San Diego's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. She was awarded the 2008 Tech Awards; Intel Environmental Laureate, the 2010 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement and was a finalist for the BBC World Challenge. Marker has also been a finalist for the Indianapolis Prize (2008, 2010) and is the recipient of an Explorers Club's Lowell Thomas Award. In Namibia, she received a special award from the Sanveld Conservancy, signifying Namibia’s farming community's acknowledgement of Dr. Marker and CCF contributions to the country of Namibia.

Selected publications of Laurie Marker

  • Marker, L. L. (1985) Factors in cheetah conservation. Regional Proc. Amer. Assoc. Zoo. Parks & Aquar. AAZPA Press, Wheeling, W. Virginia: 139-144
  • Marker L, O'Brien SJ. 1989. Captive breeding of the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) in North American zoos (1871-1986). Zoo Biology 8:3-16. 1989 * Marker-Kraus, L., Kraus, D. The Namibian Free-ranging Cheetah PDF Document. Environmental Conservation, 21(4): 369-370. 1994.
  • Marker, L. & Kraus, D. Conservation Strategies for the Long-term Survival of the Cheetah (Acinonyx Jubatus) by the Cheetah Conservation Fund, Windhoek PDF Document. The Zoological Society of London, Int. Zoo Yearbook, 35:59-66. 1997.
  • Marker, L. 'Morphological Abnormalities in Namibian Cheetahs Acinonyx jubatus' PDF Document, Proceedings of the 50th Namibian Vet Congress, Sept. 1997.
  • Munson, L., Marker, L., O'Brien, S.J., Everman, J.F., and Spencer, J.A. 'Prevalences of Antibodies to Viral Diseases in Namibian Farmland Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus),' Proceedings of the 50th Namibian Vet Congress, Sept. 1997.
  • Marker-Kraus, L., DeVincent, S, Scherer, H, Basson, P. A., Munson, L., and Quackenbush, S. L. 1997. Lymphosarcoma in a captive Namibian cheetah: a case study. Proceedings: World Veterinary Association and Veterinary Association of Namibia: 2nd African Conference. 41 - 47
  • Marker, L. 'Aspects of the Ecology of the Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) on North Central Namibian Farmlands' PDF Document. Namibia Scientific Society Journal, 48: 40-48, 2000.
  • Marker, L. 'Reducing conflicts between Namibian farmers and cheetahs' PDF Document. In: Wildlife, Land, and People Priorities for the 21st Century (Ed) Field, R., Warren, R.J., Okarma, H., Sievert, P.R. The Wildlife Society, Bethesda, MD, pp. 184-187. 2001.
  • Marker, L. Aspects of Namibian Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) Biology, Ecology and Conservation Strategies. PhD. Thesis, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford. 2002.
  • Marker, L.L., Muntifering, J.R., Dickman, A.J., Mills, M.G.L., Macdonald, D.W. Quantifying prey preferences of free-ranging Namibian cheetahs PDF Document. South African Journal of Wildlife Research, 33: 43-53. 2002.
  • Marker, L. & Dickman, A.J., Morphology, physical condition and growth of the cheetah PDF Document, 84: 840-850, 2003. * Marker, L., Mills, M.G.L., MacDonald, D.W. Factors influencing perceptions and tolerance towards cheetahs on Namiibian farmlands PDF Document. Conservation Biology. 17 (5): 1-9, 2003.
  • Marker, L. Munson, L., Basson, P.A., and Quackenbush, S. Multicentric T-cell Lymphoma Associated with Feline Leukemia Virus infection in a Captive Namibian Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) PDF Document. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 39: 690-695. 2003.
  • Marker, L. & Dickman, A.J. Dental anomalies and incidence of palatal erosion in Namibian cheetahs (Acinonyx Jubatus Jubatus). Journal of Mammology, 85(1): 19-24, 2004.
  • Marker, L. & Dickman, A. Human Aspects of Cheetah Conservation: Lessons Learned from the Namibian Farmlands PDF Document. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 9:297-305. 2004.
  • Molia, S., Chomel, B. B., Kasten, R. W., Leutenegger, C. M., Steele, B. R., Marker, L., Martenson, J. S., Keet, D. F., Bengis, R. G., Peterson, R. P., Munson, L., O'Brien, S. J. Prevalence of Bartonella infection in wild African lions (Panthera leo) and cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus). Veterinary Microbiology (Vol. 100) (No. 1/2) 31-41. 2004
  • Marker, L., Dickman, A.J., Schumann, M. Using Livestock Guarding Dogs as conflict resolution strategy PDF Document. Carnivore Damage Prevention News. Bern, Switzerland. 8: 28-32, 2005.
  • Marker, L.L., Dickman, A.J. Notes on the spatial ecology of caracals (Felis caracal), with particular reference to Namibian farmlands PDF Document. African Journal of Ecology. 43(1): 73-76, 2005.
  • Busby, G.B.J., D. Gottelli, S. Durant, T. Wacher, L. Marker, F. Belbachir, K. De Smet, A.Belbachir-Bazi, A. Fellous & M. Belghoul. 2006. A Report from the Sahelo Saharan Interest Group - Office du Parc National de l'Ahaggar Survey, Algeria (March 2005) - Part 5: Using Molecular Genetics to study the Presence of Endangered Carnivores (November 2006).
  • Marker, L.L., Dickman, A.J., Mills, M.G.L., Jeo, R.M., Macdonald, D.W. Spatial Ecology of Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) on North-central Namibian farmlands. Journal of Zoology, London. 226 274 (2008) 226-238, 2008.
  • Marker, L.; Pearks-Wilkerson, A.J.; Sarno, R.J.; Martenson, J.; Breitenmoser-Wursten, C., O'Brien, S.J.; Johnson, W.E., Molecular Genetic Insights on Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) Ecology and Conservation in Namibia. Journal of Heredity. 99(1) 2-13, 2008.
  • Marker, L., Fabiano, E­., & Ngikembua, M. The Use of Remote Camera Traps to Estimate Density of Free-Ranging Cheetahs in North-Central Namibia. Cat News. Autumn 2008. 22-24
  • Marker, L. Overview of Long-Term Health, Reproduction and Genetic Research on Namibia Cheetah (Acinonyx Jubatus). International Conference on Diseases of Zoo and Wild Animals. Netherlands. May 2009.
  • Marker, L., Sivamani, S. Policy for human-leopard conflict management in India. Cat News 50 - Spring 2009
  • Marker, L., Dickman, A.J., Mills, M.G.L., Macdonald, D.W. Chapter 15: Cheetahs and Ranches in Namibia: A Case Study. (pp 353) Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids. Edited by Macdonald, D.W. and Loveridge, J. Oxford University Press. 2010


Hogan, C. (2011). Marker, Laurie. Retrieved from


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