FORUM FOCUS 1511 - page 6-7

Suyian Ranch, located in northwest Laikipia, covers 43,000 acres of
spectacularly beautiful scenery. The property encompasses a series of
dramaticescarpments, exclusivevalleysandexpansivegrasslandplains.
This has been home to thng e Powys family for over 100 years. Suyian
is a working cattle ranch but started out as a ranchwith 9,000 head of
merino sheep! Anne Powyswas born onSuyian ranch and has always
called this home. As a fully qualified Yoga instructor she has opened
up the space she loves, offering guests tranquility at her unique camp -
Suiyan Soul,Anne’smain passion is the indignous flora of EastAfrica,
she continues to record the indigenous knowledge of plants in the hope
of saving this important information for the people of Kenya. Within
Suyian and stretching out into thewider ecosystem there are significant
populations of elephant, reticulated giraffe, ostrich, hippo, Burchell’s
zebra, Grevy’s zebra, buffalo, lion, leopard,Africanwild dog and occa-
sionally cheetah, amongmany other species.
The property is also home to rare and interesting species of plants - the
perfect setting forAnne’s self taught naturalist skills to flourish.When
youmeetAnne the first thing you notice is her proud adornment of tra-
ditional local jewelry, here’swhy:
“I really enjoy ethnic jewelry, especially jewelry
made in Laikipia. I was once asked what my eth-
nic jewelry is bymembers of the community and I
couldn’t answer or even describe what my tradi-
tionalCeltic jewelrywas. I like to supportwomen’s
groups who make traditional jewelry in Laikipia
and the rest of the country too.”
Livesof Laikipia
Demystifying theGrevy’sze
bra
Anne Powys
If most Kenyans south of Laikipia were asked to point out a
Grevy’s Zebra amongst a herd of plains Zebra, chances are
theywouldhavedifficultydoing so; in fact,most of uswould.
This isnot because theGrevy’s aren’t distinctlydifferent from
their cousins, but because manymay not knowwhat to look
forwhen coming acrossKenya’smost iconicmammal.
Scientific researchdictates that theGrevy’s zebrawas thefirst
of the zebra species to evolve after asses. They are tallerwith
narrow stripes, awhite belly, black dorsal stripe, large round-
ed ears and a brown muzzle.They live in arid and semi-ar-
id habitats comprised of grass and shrubland. Predominantly
grazers, Grevy’s zebras live on forbs and grasses but during
extremely dry periods they also browse.
Grevy’s zebranatural habitat
Originally, the species habitat was spread out in the grass-
lands, savannah and plains of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia,
Somalia and Kenya. However, due toincreased hunting and
habitat loss,Grevy’snumbershave reduceddrasticallyandcur-
rently only found in some parts of Somalia, Southern Ethio-
pia andNorthernKenya, with the highest population residing
in Kenya. In fact,Grevy’sare nowlisted on the International
Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red
list as anendangered specieswithapproximate-
ly2,000 individuals left in the wild, dropping
from 15, 000 just 30 years ago.
Today, the greatest threat facingGrevy’sis the-
continued habitat fragmentation, encroachment
in national parks andincreased land use forag-
riculture and residential developments. In ad-
dition, the zebras are hunted for their beautiful
hides andoccasionally formeat.Thisputs strain
on their already fragile life span of 20-25 years
and,a 13monthgestationperiod that hasmade-
survival of juvenileGrevy’s zebra critical.
InKenya, the zebras have nearly always co-ex-
isted with people; its population distribution
mostly in northern Kenya. Their seasonal
movements andmigratory routesare always de-
pendent on the availability of water and grass
distribution. For this reason, they oftenmigrate
to better watered areas during dry seasonswith
their lactating females who need even more
water. Traditional communities in Laikipia
and other areas of Northern Kenya, revere the
Grevy’s for their ability to find water reserves
underground especially during periods of
drought.
Conservation efforts
Due to the fact thatGrevy’s zebra fall under the
endangered species list, conservationefforts for
the mammal have stepped up in recent years.
For example, in2012, thegovernments ofKen-
ya andEthiopia agreed todevelop a new action
plan to help protect the endangered species. In
the same year, an aerial count of large mam-
mals, including Grevy’s, was conducted by
KenyaWildlife Service (KWS), Grevy’s Zebra
Trust and other stakeholders to determine pop-
ulations in order to make informed decisions
regarding conservation.
In addition, the involvement of local commu-
nities in long term conservation efforts of the
Grevy’s,means that communitieswho livewith
the species can play an active role in the de-
velopment of infrastructures that address con-
servation.Governance processes are also being
strengthened,with pastoralists managing their
rangelands through a participatory approach.
Also, efforts made in releasing more informa-
tion about the Grevy’s zebra means that Ken-
yansnowknow thatmuchmore, about the icon-
ic species.
(Pictures courtesy ofGrevy’s ZebraTrust)
Grevy’s zebrawas thefirst of the
zebra species to evolve after asses.
They are tallerwithnarrow stripes,
a white belly, black dorsal stripe,
large rounded ears and a brown
muzzle
KWShas uncovered anotherpotential threat toGrevy’s zebrapopulations: themales aren’t as aggressive about finding
mates as are themore commonplains zebras “ (Article:NewConservationPlanWill ProtectEndangeredZebraSpecies
- ScientificAmerican onlinepublication;May 3rd 2012
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