We’re back with Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and today they are introducing us to an animal that holds a special place in their heart: the Grevy’s zebra. So what makes this African mammal so important? Well, for starters, Grevy’s zebras need all the friends they can get since they are classified as Critically Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their populations have drastically gone down in places like Kenya and Ethiopia and they are locally extinct in Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea.
In the 1970’s, there were an estimated 15,000 Grevy’s zebra in Kenya, but today there are only about 2,600. That’s an 83% decline in about 40 years! The case of the disappearing Grevy’s zebra is no mystery. We know what has caused their population numbers to drop and here’s the break down: habitat degradation, the loss of their range, competition with livestock, loss of critical resources including food and water, disease and predation (interactions with predators).
Of the Grevy’s zebra that remain, 90% live in northern Kenya. More than 80% of these zebras live in community areas, where they co-exist with livestock. In fact, only 0.5% of the Grevy’s zebra’s range falls within protected areas like the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.
Building a Home
About 370 Grevy’s zebra call Lewa ‘home’ and that may not sound like a lot but it’s close to 14% of the global population! So what is Lewa doing for the Grevy’s zebra? Here’s a list of how they are helping:
- Protecting habitat that will give the Grevy’s zebra a place to roam free without having to worry about poachers
- Improving the diversity and productivity of the grasslands, to make sure the zebra’s home is a topnotch place for them to live!
- Collaborating with other partners to track zebra populations, monitoring where they roam and how they interact.
Is that Zebra Bob or George?
Keeping track of a zebra may seem like a next to impossible task… after all, don’t they all look alike? Don’t be fooled by all the black and white, each zebra is different! You can tell them apart by looking at their stripes; these markings are like fingerprints and each zebra’s pattern is unique.
It is through these conservation efforts that Lewa is able to provide a great home for the Grevy’s zebra where their population can grow. As more Grevy’s zebra are born, some of them can then be relocated to areas that were once part of their range. It’s a tough job, but with a whole lot of hard working conservation groups and the support of the communities, the Grevy’s zebra may just be roaming all across the grasslands of Africa someday soon.