by: RICH SCHMIDT - The cheetah is a magnificent animal, but its existence is now threatened by human encroachment.The cheetah is the fastest cat in the world, but it is now running a race for survival. Teresa Delaney is hoping that people in Lake Oswego will help.

Next Tuesday will be an excellent time to do something since it will mark the second annual International Cheetah Day. People all over the world are being called on to remember the cheetah, reflect on the survival of this iconic species, and support the Cheetah Conservation Fund.

A Lake Oswego resident, Delaney has been doing something about the cheetah as a member of the CCF for 22 years. She says that time is running out to save the speedy cat. Human encroachment on cheetah habitat and wildlife trafficking have shrunk the cat’s population by 90 percent over the past century.

“This is the oldest of the big cats,” Delaney said, “but it could disappear in 20 years. In 1900 there were 100,000 cheetahs in the world. Today there are 10,000.

“We really need to save this animal. It is really a marquee animal, the fastest animal in the world, and every kid knows about the cheetah.”

Laurie Marker, a friend of Delaney’s and founder of the CCF, is making special efforts to publicize the cheetah cause on International Cheetah Day.

“This day serves to remind us that the cheetah, like all wildlife, is a treasure of our planet,” Marker said. “Wildlife enhances our landscapes and can support livelihoods when utilized in a sustainable manner.”

Delaney echoes Marker’s plea. She says the extinction of the cheetah would damage man, animal and the planet.

“We’re losing hundreds of species every day,” Delaney said. “If we lose the cheetah it’s not good for the biodiversity of the earth.”

Delaney is now involved with the Clinton Global Initiative, which seeks to protect animal species from human expansion into wildlife habitats. She has made a video that can be viewed on YouTube.

People desiring to learn more about the cheetahs fight for survival and International Cheetah Day can go to the website .

More can be learned at the current cheetah exhibit at the Portland Zoo.

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