The population of Grevy’s Zebra in Kenya has increased, a recent census has revealed. Currently, the country has 2,812 Grevy’s zebras in the wild, an increase from 2,350 in 2016. Grevy‘s Zebra, one of the three zebra species, is listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation and Nature (IUCN). The other two are the mountain and plain zebras.
Grevy’s originally inhabited five countries in the Horn of Africa —Eriteria, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia. Currently, they are only found in Kenya and Ethiopia. At the moment Kenya has the highest population of the zebra, almost 90 per cent.
Habitat losses due to overgrazing by livestock, diseases from contacts with unvaccinated livestock, hunting for bushmeat, predation and competition for resources with livestock are the biggest threats to Grevy’s zebra, putting them at a serious risk of extinction.
The population has suffered a severe decline over the years, from 15,600 in the 1970s to about 2,000 in 2004. However, conservation efforts in Kenya have seen the numbers rise significantly, a big boost to tourism.
Grevy’s Zebra Trust, a charitable conservation organisation operating in Northern Kenya, has been pivotal in safeguarding the species from extinction through community conservation initiatives and awareness.
Through one such programme, the Grevy’s zebras scouts, the trust is supporting members of communities near zebra habitats to observe, monitor and record activities of the mammals. Enhanced security and changed community attitudes have contributed to the recovering Grevy’s zebras numbers and boosted their chances of survival.
The rare zebra species is stunningly beautiful and attracts numerous tourists to the country. It’s the largest of the three species, has narrower stripes and bears a striking resemblance to a horse. Laikipia, Isiolo and Samburu counties hold the highest population of the Grevy’s zebra. They are also found in national reserves, parks and conservancies in Meru and Marsabit.