Ngeeti Lempate has devoted her life to Grevy’s zebra conservation over the past 12 years. Within her community, she is know as “Mama Grevy.” In addition to the traditional role of a Samburu woman, which includes household chores and being a mother, she works to save the Grevy’s zebra.
When asked why she does this, Ngeeti said, “I am a widow. I fetch firewood for cooking in my household. I find water for my livestock. I find water for my children to drink, and I cook for them. But besides all this, I found something fulfilling in my heart in saving this magnificent species, which are part of my heritage and that God created for me.”
The work is very tough, but Mama Grevy is hardworking. Here, in her own words, is a day in her life:
“As a woman, I wake up very early around 5:00am to prepare my calabash for milking, and that is when I prepare food for those going out to herd. Then, I milk the cows. About this time, the children start waking and seek out all my attention. After eating, my son takes the cattle out for grazing and my daughter herds out the small stock. Before she goes, I give her instructions on where to take the small stock to graze.
Before I leave to search for the Grevy’s zebra, one of my neighbors comes over to watch my house, take care of the young goats and my young children who remain at home. The first data I record is my GPS location and time before I leave my home on a patrol data sheet. Then I walk for several kilometers in search of Grevy’s zebra. Every thirty minutes I again record my GPS location and time. When I encounter Grevy’s zebra, I am very excited! I record information about the sighting on the data sheets. This a regular day for me when I go on patrols.”
Mama Grevy is key to the conservation of Grevy’s zebra in her area. She said, “I love my job because it has changed my life as a widow. I have educated my kids because of this job!”
Mama Grevy is just one example of many who have dedicated their lives to saving the Grevy’s zebra. To secure this species, community involvement and ownership is paramount.