Conserving the Grevy's Zebra in Kenya and Ethiopia
The Grevy's zebra was once widespread in Kenya and Ethiopa. Today, the country is home to only a couple thousand of these animals. The Grevy’s zebra is in very serious danger of extinction in the wild, and it’s not alone: half of all wildlife in this area has been lost to habitat destruction and poaching in the last 20 years.
The Community Connection
What is the solution to the long-term conservation of Grevy's zebra and other endangered wildlife in the Horn of Africa? The answer lies with the local communities. In the past, Kenyan and Ethiopian communities have had very little incentive to protect their wildlife because doing so provided no direct benefits to the people. But the support of local communities is absolutely essential to Grevy’s zebra conservation, because community-owned property is home to the vast majority (more than 99.5%!) of the remaining wild population. So if conservation efforts in Kenya and Ethiopia are to be successful, the efforts must consider the needs of the rural people as well as the needs of the wildlife. In particular, conservation efforts must improve security for both the wildlife and the communities, as well as enhance the livelihoods of the people.
The Grevy's zebra (Equus grevyi), one of Africa's most endangered large mammals, has undergone a dramatic decline. Once occurring throughout large tracts of the Horn of Africa, the Grevy's zebra's range is now reduced to Kenya and Ethiopa. Over the past 30 years, the population has crashed from 15,000 to 2,500 with over 90% found in northern Kenya. Current threats to Grevy's zebra include loss of habitat, competition for resources with domestic livestock, poaching for meat and medicinal purposes, disease and drought.
With the support of the Saint Louis Zoo and others, the Grevy's Zebra Trust (GZT) was registered as an independent charitable wildlife conservation Trust based in Kenya in early 2007. Its mission is to conserve the endangered Grevy's zebra and its fragile habitat in partnership with communities. It operates in the Samburu and Marsabit Districts of Northern Kenya and provides technical support to Grevy's zebra conservation in Ethiopa.
The Grevy's Zebra Trust is working holistically to secure critical resources and safeguard this species from extinction across its range by engaging communities in the protection and monitoring of Grevy's zebra. Through the Grevy's Zebra Trust, the Center supports community conservation and education programs in both Ethiopia and Kenya. One such program, the Grevy's Zebra Scout Program, supports a number of women and men from Kenyan communities to participate as Grevy's Zebra Scouts, observing and recording the movements and activiites of nearby groups of zebras. This successful program provides the benefit of equal-opportunity employment in the participating communities, a direct and tangible community incentive to support conservation activities. Since the inception of this program, the Scouts have served as advocates for Grevy's zebras and for conservation. As a direct result of this program, conducted in tandem with a community awareness campaign, the tolerance of Grevy's zebra within the vicinity of community livestock has significantly increased and the herdsmen now allow the zebras to share the limited grazing and water resources with their livestock.
Through GZT's conservation partnerships with communities, the goals of the Trust are being achieved. Security for Grevy's zebra is being enhanced, local capacity for conservation is being built, community awareness is being raised, standardized monitoring is in place, and outputs from the Trust's programs are being used to inform local conservation action. GZT's programs continue to be instrumental in changing attitudes toward the species across a large area.
The Center for Conservation in the Horn of Africa also supports the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), a community-led initiative that forms a true union of Kenyan communities through field conservation and education programs. Residents of one of the 18 Northern Rangelands Trust communities, Kalama, have already stepped forward to manage their land and work with NRT, as well as the Saint Louis Zoo and its partners, to develop a sustainable, self-sufficient conservation strategy for their community. Cooperative multi-community habitat restoration programs, coupled with community-led grazing plans, are proving to be successful within the NRT communities, re-establishing important wildlife-friendly areas and historical migratory corridors for several species.
How Can You Help the Grevy's Zebra in Ethiopia and Kenya?
The Saint Louis Zoo and its partners are working hard to protect the Grevy’s zebra and other endangered wildlife in northern Kenya. You can help, too. Here’s how:
Learn more about the Grevy's zebra and other endangered wildlife by visiting the Saint Louis Zoo.
Care about the challenges facing Grevy’s zebras and African communities and tell others. See how the North Kirkwood Middle School started its own Conservation Club.
Contribute to the Zoo's conservation programs in the Horn of Africa and help us save the rare zebra and other wildlife. Protecting the people and the wildlife in the community areas of the Horn of Africa is essential to successful conservation. By helping to support the Grevy's Zebra Trust's Scout Program, you will help to preserve the last remaining wild populations of the Grevy's zebra. Scout support provides salary, uniforms, vehicles, and equipment—all necessary for the scouts who are working hard every day to create a safe haven for Grevy's zebra and other endangered wildlife.
You can also help conserve Grevy's zebra by supporting a Kenyan boy or girl to attend secondary school. In Kenya, the future of the Grevy's zebra and other endangered wildlife depends on the attitudes of the local people, including the children—the next generation of decision makers for their country. Most Kenyans cannot afford to attend secondary school (grades 9-12). To increase the education opportunities available and to reinforce the value of conserving Grevy's zebra to Kenyan children and their parents, we offer Grevy's Zebra Bursaries, or scholarships. The Grevy's Zebra Bursaries pay for the tuition, uniform and board for girls and boys to complete secondary school, thus offering them greater opportunities for their future.
For more information on Kenyan scouts and bursaries or to make a donation, please call the Zoo at (314) 646-4771 or make your contribution online. (Please indicate your gift is for the WildCare Institute.)