When American scientist Dr Laurie Marker launched the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in 1990, she had no idea where this new adventure would take her. A zoologist from California, she learned about threats to a declining wild population while conducting in situ research in Africa in the late 1970s and through the 1980s. Dr Marker routinely travelled to Namibia and other cheetah-range countries from her positions with Wildlife Safari and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo to study the habits of the world’s fastest feline. But it’s what she learned about human behaviour that shocked her. Habitat loss, loss of prey, and conflict with livestock and game farmers put cheetahs on the fast track to extinction. Livestock and game farmers were shooting, trapping and removing hundreds of cheetahs each year – more because of perceived threats than actual predation. She realised if no one would soon intervene, the cheetah might be lost forever.