It was 2:00 a.m., and Lekureya was returning home when he came upon two terrified Grevy’s zebras, a mother and her foal, encircled by hungry hyenas. Under normal circumstances, Lekureya—a Grevy’s Zebra Warrior—would have let nature take its course (after all, hyenas have to eat too). But as a Warrior, he also knew that Grevy’s zebra populations were so low that each individual animal was precious. He had to at least try to save them. So Lekureya shouted… so loudly that he not only scared the hyenas away, he also woke his fellow Warriors at the Grevy’s Zebra Trust (GZT) patrol base camp, who rushed over to help.
In all the commotion, the mother ran off. Since leaving the defenseless foal by herself at night wasn’t safe, the Warriors took her back to camp where she would be protected. Early the next morning, they set off to find the mother. Tracking her footprints from the scene of the foiled attack all the way back to her herd, the Warriors successfully reunited mother and daughter.
Though it has a happy ending, there is a deeper issue at the root of this misadventure; what happened to these Grevy’s is a symptom of Kenya’s ongoing drought. The drought had dried out the water holes and grasslands frequented by Grevy’s zebras. Continuous overgrazing by livestock had degraded whatever grasslands remained, increasing the distance Grevy’s now had to travel between procuring food and finding water. For young foals, these longer distances were grueling and they often lagged behind, becoming vulnerable to predator attacks. This is probably what happened to the pair of Grevy’s Lekureya discovered, and how the hyenas found them so late at night.
Grevy’s Zebra Trust (GZT) can’t end the drought, but it can mitigate the effects. As a short-term solution, GZT is leaving hay along zebra corridors as a supplementary food source for Grevy’s. They are also working with communities to instill better livestock grazing practices, as a long-term solution. These efforts will help maintain the integrity of the grasslands and secure the future of Grevy’s zebras.