In Summary
  • Habitat fragmentation, competition with livestock for overgrazed land, predation pressure and climate change, have all contributed to this drastic decline.
  • The Grevy’s zebra is now listed as Endangered A1a, 2c by the IUCN/SSC Equid Specialist Group, and is also listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna, which offers them the highest protection against illegal trading.

You’re likely to spot a zebra on a safari in Kenya, but chances are it’ll be the more common plains zebra (formerly Burchell’s zebra).

Its much rarer cousin, the Grevy’s zebra, is mainly found in the arid and semi-arid landscapes of northern Kenya.

It’s not too difficult to tell the two species apart: the Grevy’s is larger than the plains zebra, with narrower stripes, distinctive round ears, a black dorsal stripe and a white belly.

The key difference between the two is the fact that the Grevy’s zebra is one of the most endangered mammals on the planet. Their global wild population has plummeted from approximately 15,000 in the 1970s, to under 2,500 today.

The vast majority of this global population (over 90 per cent) can be found in Kenya, while the rest are limited to ranges in southern and north-eastern Ethiopia.

Habitat fragmentation, competition with livestock for overgrazed land, predation pressure and climate change, have all contributed to this drastic decline.

The Grevy’s zebra is now listed as Endangered A1a, 2c by the IUCN/SSC Equid Specialist Group, and is also listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna, which offers them the highest protection against illegal trading.

To help protect the Grevy’s in northern Kenya and to get a better understanding of the issues they face, a range of conservation organisations constantly monitor their population.

These include the Grevy’s Zebra Trust, the Mpala Research Centre, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Marwell Wildlife and Northern Rangeland Trust’s community conservancies.

In 2016, these organisations came together and conceived the Great Grevy’s Rally (GGR) – a unique way to get a more accurate picture of Kenya’s Grevy’s zebra population.

The rally brought together scientists, landowners, conservancies and members of the public, who drove round designated areas across northern Kenya, taking photos of each individual Grevy’s zebra they came across.

More than 500 people took over 40,000 photographs, which were analysed using sophisticated stripe recognition software. Through the census, the GGR partners found the Grevy’s zebra population to be 2,350 in northern Kenya.

Thanks to the success of the first rally, a second one is being held in a couple of weeks, on the January 27 and 28, 2018.

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