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Wildlife experts meet to discuss survival of Grevy’s Zebra

Date Published: 25 Apr, 2012
Wildlife experts meet to discuss survival of Grevy’s Zebra

Conservation experts from Kenya and Ethiopia have converged  in Nanyuki to review the national conservation and management strategy for the endangered Grevy’s zebra that expired last year. The experts from areas inhabited by endangered Grevy’s zebra are attending the two-day workshop to develop a national action plan for the survival of the wild animal. Workshop participants are drawn from Government, NGOs, local community, private land owners, people with an interest in Grevy’s zebra conservation and Ethiopia Wildlife Conservation Authority.  Speaking at the opening ceremony at the Sportsman’s Arms Hotel, Dr Charles Musyoki, who represented the Kenya Wildlife Service Director, Mr Julius Kipng’etich, said the presence of delegates from Ethiopia showed the importance the two neighbouring countries attached to the process of reviewing the strategy.  

Dr Musyoki noted that the previous five-year Grevy’s zebra strategy had made important milestones, including the 2008 first structured census for Grevy’s zebra, recruitment of a full-time national Grevy’s zebra liaison officer , establishment of various community conservancies in Northern Kenya,  training of community scouts, enhanced research and conservation activities.  He said the participants at the workshop would discuss the challenges facing the conservation of Grevy’s zebra in both countries and develop a national strategy for its conservation in the next five years. He said KWS was seeking ways to harmonise conflicting approaches by various species-specific expert groups, especially carnivore and Grevy’s zebra conservationists who work independent of each other.  He said most of the recommendations to ensure the survival of the Grevy’s zebra depend on people’s behaviour and how they relate with the environment.  “Conservation of any species is usually not so much about the species in question but people; what the communities, landowners and management authorities like KWS do,” said Dr Musyoki.  He said plans were underway for a second national Grevy’s zebra census in November this year. The first was held in 2008.

Grevy’s zebra only survive in Kenya and Ethiopia’s semi-arid lands yet they historically existed in Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea and Sudan where they have gone extinct. Kenya’s Grevy’s zebra estimated national population of 2,400 is largely found on the shores of Lake Turkana, Samburu, Marsabit, Laikipia, Meru, Tsavo, Garissa and Naivasha.

Unlike the current law, the proposed Wildlife Law lists the Grevy’s zebra among endangered and protected species. The new law also lists endangered ecosystems unlike the current one.  Ms Belinda Mackey of the Grevy’s Zebra Trust noted that the Grevy’s zebra is most adapted for semi-arid areas, especially North of the equator. She said they could go for five days without water with the exception of lactating females.   Dr. Kifle Argaw, the Director of Ethiopia Wildlife Conservation Authority, underscored the importance of cross border development of the strategy for managing and conserving the wild animal.    “We need to develop these species strategies together since if any country lags behind, it becomes a headache for the rest. We need to jointly push the conservation agenda for the Grevy’s zebra and other species,” he said.   The Grevy’s zebra is protected from any commercial use through its listing on Appendix I of the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).  The species is also classified as endangered by the International Conservation Union (IUCN).  The workshop was told that both Kenya and Ethiopia face shared challenges of poaching for meat and unproven medicinal value, predation reduced access to water resources and pasture, resource competition, invasion of invasive species and insecurity. Mr Fanuel Kebede from the Ethiopia Wildlife Conservation Authority said the cross-border collaboration would enhance the survival of the endangered species.  Dr Paul Muoria of Nature Kenya said habitat fragmentation and the expected rapid infrastructural developments of roads, railways and oil pipelines on the Isiolo-Moyale, Lamu-Isiolo-Ethiopia-Sudan routes.  “We should consider these developments as having great tourism potential but bear in mind the looming threat of poaching and habitat loss as well as rapid human population increase,” he said.  At the end of the two-day’s workshop, the expired Grevy’s zebra will be revised and updated: the workshop will revise the vision, goal and strategic objectives for the strategy.  The workshop will also provide an opportunity to update numbers and distribution of Grevy’s zebra in Kenya and Ethiopia, as well as incorporate the inputs and views of stakeholders. Activities, indicators and timelines will also be outlined against each strategic objective.


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