Austrian skier and the European Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) ambassador, Anna Fenninger was one of the big winners in Sochi on Saturday, taking gold in the women’s super-G for her first Olympic medal. Her passion for the cheetah was unmistakable, even during her Olympic victory race, during which she had donned a cheetah-print helmet.
The newly minted Olympian champion does not only show her dedication on the sports arena. In December, Fenninger in collaboration with the CCF, released a 2014 cheetah-centric calendar, in which the beauty posed next to cheetahs and in cheetah body suits
All net income from the project goes to the CCF. Fenninger said she hopes the calender will “draw attention to the difficulties experienced between people, especially the farmers, and the cheetahs. I hope more people become interested and try to help”.
In a blog post on Huffington Post she wrote just before the start of the Sochi games, CCF Founder and Director Laurie Marker, said that “during the Olympiad, the cheetah, one of the animal kingdom’s greatest athletes, has some allies. We’re excited to see CCF Ambassador Anna Fenninger compete. Anna has been a tireless advocate for CCF and came to visit us in Namibai last year to learn more about hte cheetah’s race against extinction”.
Marker pointed out that that CCF has found an exciting way for everyday athletes such as runners, bikers and other sport enthusiasts, to use their passion for sports and to help save the cheetah at the same time. The “Humans for Cheetahs’ charity team will be racing in their inaugural effort this May in Portland, Oregon.
Marker pointed out that recognisable global figures are important for causes such as CCF.
“Icons matter, not because of what they are in and of themselves,. but because of the ideals that they symbolise and the ways in which those ideals can be utilised for the greater good”.
As detailed on the CCF’s website, cheetahs have become an endangered species due to changes in land use and habitat. As the world’s fastest land animal, cheetahs depend on large open areas in order to catch their prey. With increased development in Namibia beginning in the 1980s, the cheetah lost that space and saw its numbers dwindle to roughly 2500 animals. The CCF has helped to stabilize the population and educates humans (especially farmers) about the problem.
Marker concluded that “the race is on to save the cheetah. And if we can win the race … the possibility that we can save any of the thousands of other threatened species, the power to save whole ecosystems, lies within our grasp”.