Delegates to the 6th annual Grevy’s Zebra conference in Nairobi have heard of the latest threats to the endangered species, and are reviewing measures to stem its decreasing population.
Held by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), the conference earlier this month brought together researchers and academics from diverse backgrounds who made presentations on recent findings on Grevy’s zebra, particularly on its survival amid a myriad of threats.
The population of the Grevy’s Zebra has dwindled from 15,000 in the 1970s to the current 2800 animals.
KWS Deputy Director for Species Conservation and Management Patrick Omondi asked participants to formulate a clear road map addressing the threats facing the survival of the endangered species. He cited habitat loss, predation and diseases as the major threats to the survival of the Grevy’s Zebra.
Historically, Grevy’s Zebra were found in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia with a reported sighting in Sudan. Currently, the species is found only in Kenya and Ethiopia, with Kenya holding 90 percent of the total population.
Grevy’s zebra (Equus grevyi) was listed as Endangered A 2ac, C 2a (i) by the IUCN/SSC Equid Specialist Group (IUCN, 2003). Grevy’s zebra is also listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), which offers them the highest protection against trade. The population size of Grevy’s zebra has reduced drastically and the species’ natural range has undergone one of the most dramatic constrictions of any animal species in Africa.
The main threats responsible for the decline of the species population are loss of range, hunting, competition with domestic livestock for critical resources, loss of access to critical resources, disease, predation, use of its products for medicinal purposes and drought; particularly in northern Kenya.
Grevy’s Zebra is the largest species of zebra and the biggest wild equid. They have a body length between 2.5 and 3 m (8.25 – 9.75 ft), a tail length between 38 and 60 cms (15 – 23.5 inches) and they weigh between 350 and 450 kg.
They have dense, narrow black and white stripes that are distinct down to their hooves and are unique to each individual. Their belly and the base of the tail are white and they have very large, rounded ears.
Predators of Grevy’s Zebras include Lions, hyenas, Leopards, Cheetahs and African Wild dogs.