Citizen scientists will soon be part of a key weekend activity to monitor the population of the endangered Grevy’s zebras. Organized by the Grevy’s Zebra Trust (GZT), the Great Grevy’s Rally will happen on the last weekend of January, and will bring together scientists and landowners partnering with members of the public in a fun two-day event to count as many members of the species as possible.
The Grevy’s zebra is the largest of the wild equines, with narrow, distinguished stripes, white bellies, and large, round-ears affectionately called ‘Mickey Mouse’ ears. Much like a human fingerprint, the stripe pattern of every zebra is unique, making it easier to tell individuals apart than many people think.
These stripes are a key part of the rally. Teams will be given a camera with GPS capabilities. While they set out across Kenya, they will take photos of the right side of every Grevy’s they find. The photos will then be added to a database and examined, giving an estimate of the current population within Kenya, as well as the general sex and age distribution.
With only around 2,500 Grevy’s zebras left in Kenya (around 90% of the total population), it’s important now more than ever to understand how many are left, and whether the population is increasing, decreasing, or remaining stable. This database can help really nail the remaining number down, and provide a key future reference on individuals.
This is a great opportunity for people to get involved in conservation in a real, tangible way, coming together to save a piece of Kenyan heritage. It’s also a fun way to spend the weekend at some beautiful wilderness areas, whether it’s camping out beneath the stars or spending the night in a lodge. Everyone can feel like a scientist and be able to help out these charismatic creatures.