Sacramento Zoo education specialist Chris Llewellyn joined the second national census of the endangered Grevy’s zebra and reticulated giraffe in Africa, called the Great Grevy’s Rally. The census teams are made up of citizen scientists, conservationists, national and county governments, scientists, local conservancies, and NGO’s. Chris is taking us with her on this conservation journey and will share her experiences with us along the way.
Visit the Zebra Rally webpage for all the days and more photos!
Day 5 – January 27
The two-day Great Grevy’s Rally had finally arrived! Chris and her team set off at 7:30 a.m. with their ranger to their assigned survey area. In preparation for being outside in the heat all day they carried plenty of water, sunscreen, snacks, lunch and their cameras.
During the two-day census Chris’s team did not spot a single Grevy’s zebra. While it was disappointing, no sightings are still important data. Over the two-day census 170 teams covered over 25,000 square kilometers (about 9,653 miles) in five counties of Northern Kenya and collectively took over 100,000 photographs. The photos will be submitted for analysis and the official results of the census will be completed by June 2018.
The rally is not just about counting animals. It is a photographic census to monitor the health and status of the endangered Grevy’s zebra. The results from this census will inform the decisions made to protect Grevy’s zebras. The Great Grevy’s Rally brought together communities, conservationists, national and county governments, scientists and the public to protect the future of Grevy’s zebra.
Day 6 – January 28
During the two-day census, there was some time for fun photos of Chris finding toy zebras and life in camp. The herders would make a corral for the livestock and the camp cook would make a hot meal for the rally participants.
Day 7 – January 29
Making the most of being in a different country, Chris took the opportunity to visit the Grevy’s Zebra Trust camp in Westgate Conservancy. There she got to see the Laisamis water pan built by the Grevy’s Zebra Trust and learn more about the threats facing Grevy’s zebra in Laisamis.
One of the main threats to Grevy’s zebra is limited access to water. Their range in Northern Kenya falls in arid to semi-arid habitat with limited permanent water sources. People and livestock also share these same resources and during times of environmental stress, such as droughts, the pressure on the available water increases. The Grevy’s Zebra Trust manages dry season water access to alleviate the stress on Grevy’s zebra, and ensure they have access throughout the long dry season of July to October. This intervention significantly improves the chances of survival for Grevy’s zebra populations in areas where they are particularly vulnerable during the dry season and helps other wildlife as well. The Laisamis water pan is one of several ways that the water is managed to ensure the zebra have access to water. The organization also works with local communities to engage water monitors who the water points daily and track their usage.
Stay tuned for more updates and follow along here or see more photos on the Zebra Rally webpage.