Species Conservation, Citizen Science, and Tourism join forces to support the first-ever photographic census of the Endangered Grevy’s Zebra in Kenya.
The first ever photo-census of Grevy’s Zebra is gearing up to provide vital information about the status of this magnificent animal. The Great Grevy’s Zebra Rally will take place on 30th and 31st January 2016 in Kenya, coinciding with International Zebra Day.
Researchers are joining forces with conservancy managers, community members, tourism operators and members of the public, enabling them to become conservation citizen scientists. After informal and fun training, our new recruits will be sufficiently skilled to join professional conservationists in counting and photographing all Grevy’s zebra throughout their habitat in Laikipia, Isiolo, Samburu and Marsabit Counties.
Grevy’s zebra numbers have declined substantially in recent years, with population losses of between 60% and 80% since the late 1980s. Restricted to the Horn of Africa, with the largest population in northern Kenya, global numbers may be fewer than 2,500 individuals. The threats to Grevy’s Zebra include reduction of available water sources; habitat degradation and loss due to overgrazing; competition for resources; hunting; and disease.
The information collected by our team will provide essential information on individual animals and a means of assessing the current population status. Using new and advanced software technology, individual stripe patterns can be recognised as a unique ‘fingerprint’. This will allow our scientists to estimate the size of the Grevy’s zebra population. In addition, they can identify important clues to indicate the health of the populations. For example, sex ratio and age classes can indicate whether the population has the potential to increase, or may be at further risk of decline.
By mobilising support from our citizen scientists, we are able to conduct the survey over a much larger area and anticipate covering at least 60,000 km2. Our team will identify and confirm key breeding areas for Grevy’s zebra as well as highlighting areas of conservation success for the species, or flagging areas of concern.
The Rally will raise vital awareness of national conservation issues and endangered species, in particular the Grevy’s zebra.
Marwell Wildlife is proud to be a key member of the wider team that also includes the Grevy’s Zebra Trust, Kenya Wildlife Services, Laikipia Wildlife Forum, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Northern Rangelands Trust, and Princeton University.
For more information about the Rally, please visit http://www.greatgrevysrally.com