How Technology Is Saving The Endangered Grevy’s Zebra

How Technology Is Saving The Endangered Grevy's Zebra

When it comes to technology, its use varies across several sectors. The fact that we have the power and skillset to use innovation coupled with our ever advancing technology, is helping us to come up with solutions for saving some of the other species on Earth from becoming endangered, or even extinct. One of the ways this is used is in the Northern part of Kenya with the endangered Grevy’s Zebra

The Grevy’s zebra have undergone one of the most substantial reductions of range of any African mammal. As opposed to the population of plain Zebra which surpasses 400,000, the Grevy’s Zebra is just over 3,000 and are only found in the Northern Plains of Kenya and Ethiopia. 92% of that population lives in Kenya where its survival is held together by the intervention of the community.

Women Scouts in Samburu

Over the last ten years, conservation efforts centred on Grevy’s zebra have significantly increased.

It has become a focal species
for many programmes, not just for wildlife
conservation but also for community
development because the fates of both
Grevy’s zebra and human livelihoods are
inextricably linked to the fragile semi-arid
and arid ecosystem of northern Kenya.

Community-led conservation in this context has been particularly successful through the establishment and support of a growing number of community conservancies, like the Grevy’s Zebra Trust.

As Sheila Funnell, Research Manager at Grevy’s Zebra Trust explains, women have been instrumental in coordinating Grevy’s Zebra conservation efforts in the Wamba Area in Samburu North.

The Grevy’s Zebra Trust engages communities through our Grevy’s Zebra Scout Program which has been operating in northern Kenya since 2003.

Twenty-nine women and men from seven different pastoral communities are employed on a part-time basis by the Program to monitor Grevy’s zebra, gather data on the zebras, raise conservation awareness in their communities and at the same time foster positive attitudes towards the species. From the outset, women have been uniquely included in their conservation efforts.

Importance of Technology

On the 30th and 31st of January 2016, Kenya undertook it’s first citizen science-based census of Grevy’s zebras, dubbed the Great Grevy’s Rally spearheaded by the Laikipia Wildlife Forum and the Grevy’s Zebra Trust where they invited ordinary citizens to take part in an activity to almost accurately capture the number of zebra in the area.

How Technology Is Saving The Endangered Grevy's ZebraEvery day in an area like Laisamis, the Grevy’s Scouts travel to their designated areas and when they see the Grevy’s Zebra or any other animal, they use dedicated Android smartphones using SMART Technology and GPS devices that allow them to collect the geographical coordinates via these devices to know how many zebras are in the area, how they move to travel as they look for water and if necessary, are able to send help where they spot injured zebras for immediate medical attention.

They are also equipped with cameras and over time they’ve become amazing photographers who are able to take pictures of the landscapes through their own eyes; be it pictures of the animals or of the terrain, they become ambassadors for the land in which they live.

During the dry season, through Camel patrols, they load up camels with supplies for over 2 weeks to monitor the grazing patterns of the zebra, how long they have to travel to get pasture and water and since they know the terrain, were able to monitor and know where they could help through their supplementary feeding program. Through this program, GZT lost far fewer female Grevy’s and their fowls than expected during the 2017 drought who had to travel longer distances to access water and pasture.

The data they collect is then downloaded on a monthly basis and is collected to come up with a comprehensive data base of the number of Grevy’s Zebras and a deeper understanding of the terrain they are operating in thanks to the local men and women involved in this process.

How Technology Is Saving The Endangered Grevy's ZebraThis not only gives these men and women the power to take charge of conservation efforts in their own backyard, it also gives them the personal mandate to become environmental conservation champions in an area where such ideologies are still taking shape.

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