Scientific name: Equus grevyi
Swahili name: Punda milia
Kenya has two species of zebra: Burchels Zebra and Grevy’s Zebra. Grevy’s zebras (Equus grevyi) are the largest, wildest and most untamable of the three zebra species in Africa. Historically, Grevy’s zebras are confined to the Horn of Africa and roamed the scrublands and plains in Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Kenya. But Grevy’s zebras have suffered one of the most substantial reductions of range of any African mammal.
Grevy's zebra was the first of the zebra species to evolve after asses. Taller, narrow stripes, a white belly, black dorsal stripe, large rounded ears and a brown muzzle the Grevy's zebra is easily distinguished from the more common plains zebra. These two species overlap in the southern range of Grevy's zebra and the northern range of plains zebra.
Grevy’s zebra are in crisis and numbers have declined rapidly. Towards the end of the 1970s, the global population of Grevy's zebra was estimated to be approximately 15,000 animals; in 2008 an updated survey estimated approximately 2,500 animals representing more than an 80% decline in global numbers over the past three decades.
The last comprehensive survey of Grevy’s zebra in Kenya was undertaken in the year 2008, resulting in an estimated population of 2,407 Grevy’s zebra in the core range of the species. In the neighboring Ethiopia only 126 are left.
Grevy’s zebra is listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) which offers them the highest protection against illegal trading.
The greatest threats facing the species today are habitat fragmentation and loss as more land is converted to agricultural use. Overgrazing by livestock is leading to significant environmental degradation - Grevy’s zebras compete with the ever-increasing livestock population and agricultural crops for water.
Other significant threats are the result of killing for meat, medicinal purposes or sometimes at random; disease and drought.
In Kenya two organizations work alongside Kenya Wildlife Service to conserve Grevy Zebra. The Grevy’s Zebra Trust https://www.grevyszebratrust.org/index.html
was established to conserve Grevy’s zebra, an endangered species, across its range in collaboration with local communities in Kenya and Ethiopia. The trust focus on: employment of communities to protect and monitor the species; support of eucation for pastoral children; awareness campaigns; partnering on research projects that link directly to management; and rangeland rehabilitation through planned livestock grazing.
Another NGO, Africa Wildlife Foundation www.africawildife.org also carries similar programmes and research on Grevy Zebra in Northern Kenya.
Kenya has a national strategy for the conservation of zebras setting up a Grevy zebra Task Force chaired by Kenya Wildlife Service. Other members of the task force include: African Wildlife Foundation, Denver Zoo Earthwatch Institute, Grevy's Zebra Trust, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Marwell Wildlife, Northern Rangelands Trust and Princeton University. The task force coordinates Grevy’s zebra conservation efforts in Kenya. Already it has developed a national Grevy’s zebra conservation strategy which provides guidance to ongoing and proposed Grevy’s zebra research and conservation efforts.