An iconic Kenyan species, the Grevy’s zebra is dissappearing at an alarming rate and faces extinction.
Kenya has one of the highest human population growth rates in the world. Communities vie with the zebra for food and water in the Samburu region, where fewer than 3,000 Grevy's zebra remain.
Scientists and volunteers led by Dr Paul Kimata Muoria of the African Wildlife Foundation are studying the Grevy's zebra in a bid to find solutions to the problem.
Earthwatch volunteers help collect data by walking transects marked out by GPS, counting zebra they see along the way. Such data helps scientists analyse the zebra's population and distribution.
An easy way to measure the growth or decline of a population is to examine birth and death rates over time. Zebra are identified by photos of the stripe pattern on their right rump, which is analysed by computer software.
Conducting '"bite surveys" allows researchers to understand which animals have grazed where, and how the diet of zebra might overlap with competing livestock such as donkeys, cattle, sheep and goats.
Insights from local people reveal Grevy's zebra numbers were once higher and disease and drought have taken a toll. Scientists ask communities to support them while rangers protect the zebra and Earthwatch volunteers.
With Earthwatch support, a national Grevy's zebra conservation strategy has been launched. The Kenya Wildlife Service has conducted the first aerial survey of the species, counting over 2400 zebra.
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