Funded! This project was successfully funded on August 25, 2011.

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Documenting the wild cheetah & conservation efforts across Africa in the pursuit to save the fastest cat from extinction.

UPDATE: WOW

That was Cheetah speed!  You helped reach the goal in record time!  With nearly one month left we can sprint faster to double the amount of funding.  The costs of travel & equipment can be fully funded if we all keep spreading the word...

I'm adding a 5 x 7 bonus print for each new backer at the $25 level & existing backers who increase their donation by at least $30.

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“Over the last century, 90 percent of the cheetah population in the world has been killed, and it is now the most endangered cat in Africa.” -- UNITED NATIONS, May 6, 2010

70 miles per hour. Zero to 40 in three strides at 25 feet per stride.

The world’s fastest land animal and it’s most graceful hunter is on the brink...

I am traveling to South Africa, Namibia and Botswana to photograph the cheetah in the wild, and document the conservation efforts of organizations as they work with the local farmers (ranchers) and communities. The goal is to raise awareness and affect change via the visual story across country borders of how conservation methods benefit humans to live in harmony with cheetahs.

Frequent updates from the field will be published via National Geographic News Watch and Cheetah-Watch.com. The collection of images is designed to shift political will, increase public support of farmers who produce predator-safe products, and to enforce existing endangered species and anti-poaching laws.

This is an independent project funded completely out of my own pocket. Although prestigious news channels will distribute the story far and wide, there is no budget for production and I need *your* help to make it happen.

(Click here for your Kickstarter Rewards Gallery)

In the last year I’ve met with directors and founders from organizations in Namibia, Botswana, Kenya and the United States. Listening to their heartfelt pleas and learning about the serious on-the-ground long-term work, I am inspired to help in the best way I know how: visual storytelling.

More organizations are cropping up throughout Africa who will follow the methods taking hold in Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. By documenting their efforts, the work of new organizations can gain a quicker foothold in the fight to save the cheetah.

Phase 1: Expedition with author of ‘Whatever You Do, Don’t Run’, Peter Allison as we track the cheetah in its natural habitat.

Phase 2 : The dramatic and compelling juxtaposition of personal profiles of the farmers protecting their livelihoods against the ecological impact of their expansion on cheetah populations.

• Document orphaned cheetahs to demonstrate the impact of the human-predator conflict.

• Document the farmers’ circumstances that lead to killing/poaching cheetahs and predatory-safe alternatives.

Objectives: • Promote funding of cheetah conservation organizations in Africa & support the creation of beef industry 'Predator Friendly' certification. • Increase awareness for the cheetah. • Publish the collection of photographic work & profiles through various news outlets. • Publish a book with beautiful images of the cheetah in the wild. Percentage of sales going to support cheetah conservation orgs. • Limited Edition Prints of the cheetah printed on archival paper. Percentage of sales going to support cheetah conservation orgs.

How your donation will be used:

Your contributions will used for travel expenses, airfare and photographic equipment.

About the Cheetah:

One hundred years ago, there were more than 100,000 wild cheetahs inhabiting 44 countries. Today, cheetahs exist in only two dozen of those countries with the total global population somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000.

The primary threat to the survival of cheetahs has been its loss of habitat due to agricultural expansion, poaching and game hunting for hides and trophies. As human population continues to increase there is a higher demand for land rights. This affects the cheetah as increased agricultural pressures and subdivision of land with numerous fences means a decrease in available habitat for the cheetah and other wildlife species. Cheetahs have been forced into smaller areas where they have to compete for food and ultimately onto farmlands seeking goats and livestock. Farmers have been known to see cheetahs as pests or varmints and routinely trap, shoot or poison them when they threaten their livestock. In Namibia, more than 90% of wild cheetahs live on privately owned farmland.

Conservation efforts utilizing predator-safe methodologies have made great strides over the last decade, especially in Eastern and Southern Africa. However, with only a few programs their progress has been slow, and certainly no match for the continued decline in global cheetah populations.

History:

In the mid-1950s there were an estimated 40,000 cheetahs in the world. By the mid-1970s, their population had dropped to half due to a spike in agricultural expansion. Farmers killed cheetahs by the thousands as pests or to sell their skins to the fur trade until 1975 when researchers began to realize the cheetah was in danger of becoming extinct. In July of 1975, CITES (the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species) placed the cheetah on Appendix I, making international trade in live cheetah or cheetah products illegal.

Today, the cheetah occupies only 24% of its historic range according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. This is particularly concerning to conservationists who view cheetahs as an excellent indicator species due to their vast range. If there are cheetahs, there is a healthy ecosystem.

Project focus: A changed perspective—changes everything

My unique approach sets out to not only show the plight of the cheetah through increased public education, but to illustrate the complexities of the problem through a collection of profiles that embodies both sides of the argument. It is believed that this balanced approach to the collection will broaden perspectives and change the static dialog of best intentions into actionable solutions.

(Map published under Wikimedia®) (special thanks to Martin Heigan for his cheetah chirp clip in the vid above)

Go here to select the images you want for your rewards! Flickr Kickstarter Pics

FAQ

  • 3 months: October - December, 2011

    Last updated:
  • South Africa, Botswana & Namibia

    Last updated:
  • Intra-African Airfare
    Rental Vehicles & Gas/ Petrol on location
    International Smart-phone to update YOU live from the field
    Extra photography equipment as needed

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  • YES, quite loudly.

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  • Yes: Phase 1 has a few spots available. Message me for details.

    Last updated:
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    Your name in the "Special Thanks" dedication section on the Cheetah Watch website

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    Your name in the "Special Thanks" dedication section on the Cheetah Watch website + 2 4x6 signed photographic prints of the cheetah or jaguar cub.

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    Your name in the "Special Thanks" dedication section on the Cheetah Watch website + 2 5x7 signed photographic prints of the cheetah or jaguar cub.

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    All of the above + your name in the "Special Thanks" dedication section in the printed book.

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    All of the above + Personal 'thank you' postcard snail mailed from Africa with an update on the project.

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    All of the above + Advance, signed copy of the book.

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    All of the above + Portrait Session! Engagement, pregnancy, or actor's headshot taken in beautiful outdoor setting in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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    Wedding Photography up to September, 2011 or from January, 2012 onward: I will photograph your Northern California Wedding! Geographic areas include San Francisco, Wine Country ( Sonoma / Napa), South Bay, North Bay, and East Bay. This package retails for $5000. See my wedding work at www.MarcyMendelson.com

Funding period

- (60 days)