By Sy Montgomery, photographs by Nic Bishop. HMH Books for Young Readers, 2014. 80 pages. $18.99/hardcover. Recommended for ages 10–14.Buy on FJ Amazon Store
Chasing Cheetahs provides an interesting perspective of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) whose goal is to protect the lives of endangered cheetahs in Africa. Cheetahs are the fastest land animal on earth, reaching speeds of 70 miles per hour. They are also predators and, not surprisingly, farmers are not fond of cheetahs. In Namibia, the location of CCF’s headquarters, farmers are the cheetah’s biggest predator.
The book explains that cheetahs were once plentiful. Cheetahs originated in North America, where they are now extinct. Currently, cheetahs are found in the wild only in Iran and Africa. Their population has plummeted from an estimated 100,000 in the early 1900s to approximately 10,000 today.
CCF was founded by Dr. Laurie Marker, a pragmatic conservationist. CCF operates a cheetah conservation center in Namibia with approximately 45 animals. Marker spoke with farmers who were killing cheetahs and applied a practical approach to help farmers and the cheetahs. She raises Kangal dogs for the goatherds. The large Kangal dogs, weighing 90 to 150 pounds, are fiercely protective of the animals under their watch. The cheetahs are intimidated by these dogs and stay away. The puppies are offered to the farmers at low cost, and once the farmers have protection from the cheetahs, they let them live. Chasing Cheetahs, with beautiful photographs of cheetahs and the employees, volunteers, and visitors at CCF, would be a welcome addition to a meeting or personal library.