Over the weekend I went to a benefit for saving the cheetahs, predators who live mainly in Namibia as does the dramatic looking woman, Dr. Laurie Marker, who is attempting to save them. She resembles Diane Von Furstenberg if Diane were taller and had lots of curly hair. And were younger and lived in Namibia. The cheetahs have developed an unfortunate taste for the local livestock (sheep, goats, scrawny cows) and this does not set well with the reasonably poor herder/farmers. So they kill the cheetahs, which does nothing good for saving them. If you were to evacuate all the people from Namibia, you could save a lot of cheetahs very quickly, and probably no one in the rest of the world would really notice, excepting the evacuees. Perhaps they could be sent to somewhere unpopulated like Montana. Nothing is simple. The good doctor brought a real live cheetah to the fund raiser, borrowed from the local zoo, just in case the people attending, all of whom paid at least 200 dollars each to be there and drink bad wine from Temecula, were so dumb as to not know what one looked like. It looked like it wanted to run us all down and eat us, but it did not. While I was there. It was on a leash. It had a faux African name like Mekemba. It purred (“the only big cat that purrs” which I guess was supposed to be reassuring), except the purring sounded more like a WWII aircraft engine than a small kitty. It was also accompanied by a very large but less threatening white dog called an Anatolian Shepherd. The dog was said to be the cheetah’s “friend.” Dr. Laurie breeds these dogs and gives them as puppies to the herders, and having a dog live among the goats is said to discourage the cheetahs. But the next question should have been, “Ok, so how much does this enormously large dog eat?” We’re in the middle of the freaking desert but I doubt that he lives on termite mounds or cactus. Do you have to feed him one of your goats instead of having the cheetah eat it? However, no one asked this, as we were all enthralled that Dr. Laurie had sold all her goods and moved to Namibia out of devotion to the cheetahs, and not because of a failed love affair or as an agent for Angelina Jolie. Late in the talk, which went on too long, “too long” being defined as I was out of wine, the cheetah began looking very carefully at the nearest row of attendees. There was talk of a group photo with the now quite attentive cheetah. I was in the third row back, as far back as you could be, and near the door. Wyatt Earp taught me always to have a way out when things turn ugly, in card games or politics. I believe that in charitable activities such as this there is a rule that you should not have the beneficiary of your efforts eat the donors. I am not in any event going to any fundraisers where some well-meaning paleontologist wants to save dinosaurs that have been brought back to life using DNA trapped in amber or something equivalent. Especially if there is a photo opp with the dinosaur.
The cheetah considers whether or not to eat Dr. Laurie. The young woman holding the leash decides not to adopt Dr. Laurie’s hair style.
—-Robert Hemphill is an author and former senior executive with a global power company. His most recent book is Dust Tea, Dingoes and Dragons, a humorous look at international business. Learn more at www.rfhemphill.com.