Wildlife Conservation, Monitoring, and Community Scouts in Northern Kenya

April 28, 2023

A Marwell Wildlife Community Scout in Kenya sits with a portable solar panel

Despite the difficulties imposed by the severe long-term drought, our Community Scouts increased their efforts during 2022.

Regular wildlife patrols were undertaken to record species and engage with livestock herders and other community members. In 2022, our community scouts conducted an impressive 2,207 patrols (19% increase on 2021) covering over 13,000 km. These patrols focused on the Endangered Grevy’s zebra, but 20 other species were also recorded. Dik-dik Madoqua guentheri and gerenuk Litocranius walleri were the most spotted species, both being seen more frequently than in previous years.

The black-backed jackal Canis mesomelas was the most sighted carnivore, but fewer were spotted than in previous years. There was a noticeable increase in observations for species like the aardwolf Proteles cristata, gerenuk, lion Panthera leo, aardvark Orycteropus afer, and spotted hyaena Crocuta crocuta. Worryingly, fewer carnivores and Grevy’s zebra were observed compared to previous years. The scouts also recorded an increase in carcasses, especially those of Grevy’s zebra, ostrich Struthio camelus and lesser kudu Tragelaphus imberbis. The most likely causes of death were poaching or starvation due to the drought.

Declines in direct sightings of Grevy’s zebra were probably due to animals gathering in fewer areas where they can still find water and pasture, some of which are problematic for our community scouts to access
safely. Our teams regularly attend community meetings to discuss insecurity and seek peaceful cooperation. We do know from monitoring our supplementary feeding sites, that at least 120
Grevy’s zebra individuals are living in these areas.

Remote camera-traps placed by our scouts provide additional information to the patrols. A project by one of our postgraduate students, Connor Lacey, revealed differences in the timing of activity between Grevy’s zebra and livestock populations, with livestock mostly active during the day and Grevy’s zebra active at
night, likely to avoid people. This presents a potential challenge as night-time activity places Grevy’s zebra at greater risk of predation. Although the long-term implications of these findings remain uncertain, we are continuing to monitor and work with communities and partners to highlight and prevent population declines.

PARTNERS: Kenya Wildlife Service | Wildlife Research and Training Institute (WRTI), Kenya | Grevy’s Zebra Trust | Milgis Trust | Northern Rangelands Trust | Mpatmpat Consultants Limited | University of Southampton

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