The very first Great Grevy’s Rally created citizen scientists out of 450 people by sending them out into the field with cameras to count Grevy’s zebra for a weekend.
An incredible 188 teams explored northern Kenya, bringing together people from all walks of life. Participants ranged from tourists to community members to key county officials. Together, they covered 25,000 square kilometers, cameras on hand to snap pictures of each zebra’s unique stripe pattern- every Grevy’s zebra has a unique pattern of stripes, much like a human fingerprint. The photos they took were then uploaded to a database that uses new technology to read zebra stripes like a bar code, allowing for easier identification of individuals in the future.
The goal is to attain accurate numbers of how many of these endangered equines currently live in select Kenyan parks. There are only an estimated 2,500 Grevy’s zebras left in Kenya, accounting for 90% of the total wild population. It is vitally important for Grevy’s Zebra Trust to understand where the population is trending- if it is increasing, decreasing, ore remaining stable- to inform their conservation work.
The early results are promising. One school bus full of children saw over 50 Grevy’s zebras, an experienced mirrored by several other groups. Overall, this was a unique opportunity for everyday people to spend time as hands-on conservation scientists, contributing to the protection of a highly endangered species.