FORUM FOCUS 1603 - page 3

March 2016 IssueNo. 6
he main sentiments felt
within our small group
of citizen scientists as we
headed into the field that Friday the
of January was probably ‘Let’s
not get eaten by lions’. By the time
we returned toNanyuki at the endof
the weekend, those sentiments had
changed to ‘Let’s do this again!’
Our group of eight was composed
of an eclectic mix: two biologists
(neither with any experience with
Grevy’s sampling), one logistics
officer, one project manager for
an embassy, one communications
officer, one photographer, one
economist and one finance intern
working for a start-up company.
Some of us had never been camping
in the bush, some had never been
in a four-wheel drive vehicle,
and some of us, amazingly, had
never stepped in mud! All of us
were, however, very excited to be
spending the weekend adventuring
for a worthy cause. We started off
with registration and training from
the organisers in Nanyuki, as well
as receiving directions, maps and
last minute prepping before being
released into thewild.
The drive up from Nanyuki to
Loisaba was largely uneventful and
wewere even afforded some breaks
to take in the scenery and get a head
start on our photography. After lots
of winding roads and impossibly
beautiful panoramas, we arrived at
the campsite at dusk. Therewewere
greeted by Dale, the Conservancy
manager, and Fiona, who runs the
tourism business.After assigning us
our target areas, our maps and our
personal guides (who also doubled
as our last line of defence against
lion attacks), they left us to set our
tents up and begin our adventure in
earnest. The campsite was simple
but we had everything we needed;
water, food, shelter and, most
importantly, firewood for a bonfire.
We set off early the next morning
with the two vehicles in our group
ACitizenScientistViewof theGreatGrevy’sRally
dividingup the56,000 acreproperty
between them. We had been
assigned specific blocks, and we
attempted tomake our way through
them as best as we could. Dale had
warned us that the Grevy’s might
have moved around onto other
properties after the rains, sowe had
cautious expectations. Both teams
did manage to spot more than a
dozen Grevy’s each, and the good
weather and general flat terrain
meant that we had an excellent
chance of getting photos of the
animals’ requisite right flank for
use in identification and matching.
Some of the zebra proved to be
restless subject matter, and we had
to spend some time coaxing them to
pose for us. Even then they would
stubbornly turn in unison and face
the wrong way. Extreme measures
often had to be taken in order to
acquire a usable shot of a particular
zebra, includingdriving throughdry
river beds, up imposing kopjes or
bobbing and weaving through thick
bushes. Through all this, we were
lucky to see many other ungulates
and assorted wildlife, including
Impala, Gazelle, Oryx and the
more common but only slightly
less elegant plains zebra. After a
late afternoon Sundowner at one of
Loisaba’s upcoming lodges on the
escarpment, we went back to camp
for the night.
The following daywasmainly an
attempt at recreating the previous
day’s sampling blocks. Success
was varied, and we won’t be sure
what percentage of the sightings we
saw that afternoon until the photos
are analysed. We broke camp and
drove off in the early afternoon,
enjoying the picturesque scenery.
We felt thoroughly satisfiedwithour
camping adventure and our small
contribution towards science. This
contribution hopefully will provide
the necessary data to continue
protecting the majestic Grevy’s
hank you so much to all
citizen scientists for your
participation in the Great
Grevy’s Rally (GGR) as well as the
County Government of Laikipia,
landowners, conservancies and
partner organisations for supporting
the historic event. As a result of
your involvement, the GGR was
able to sample 45 counting blocks
covering over 25,000 sq. km in the
first ever age structured census of
the endangeredGrevy’s zebra.
The initial estimate is that
there were over 50,000 images
taken! The Rally brought together
conservancy managers, National
Reserve wardens, tourism partners,
conservation organisations, county
governments, research scientists and
interested members of the public
also represents one of the biggest
collaborations of conservation
organisations in northern Kenya
and garnered strong support from
the Samburu, Laikipia, Isiolo and
Marsabit counties, demonstrating
the power of devolution and support
from local communities.
The disk with all the images
will make its way back to the US
within a couple of weeks and then
the IBEIS team will identify all
the unique individuals seen and
compare the sightings on the first
daywith the sightings of the second
day to estimate the size of Grevy’s
zebra populations by region and
The next step will then be to
examine the photos to assign
ages (adult, juvenile, foal) to each
uniquely identified individual. Dan
Rubensteinwill create a Zooniverse
worldwide can help review the
thousands of images and categorise
Grevy’s zebra age classes. The
public will be notified when the
Zooniverse site goes live so that
anyone interested canhelpout again
as a citizen scientist!Youdon’t have
to be an expert on Grevy’s zebra
ageing as there are hundreds of
people working on the images thus
drawing on the power of the crowd
which will produce weighted and
more accurate results.
We look forward to sharingmore
news in due course and thank you
again for taking part in this unique
citizen science event to save one of
Kenya’smost iconic species!
For frequent updates please log
on to theGGRwebsite:
group ranches to represent them in
the CFA. These multiple levels of
governance often create confusion
over roles and responsibilities, and
this confusion is reflected in the
operations of theCFA
In addition, the community has
a strong traditional governance
system led by traditional “elders”
who have been instrumental in
the conservation of the forest
until now. Our challenge remains
how to combine all these different
governance systems effectively
for the sustainablemanagement of
We remain confident that by
working as neighbours with
NRT and Borana Conservancy
will help the communities and
people of Mukogodo Forest
secure a stronger, brighter future.
Mukogodo’s future is the future of
this neighbourhood. Support for
rangelands management, tourism
development, forest protection,
and wildlife conservation are all
at hand. Our job remains to help
the people of Mukogodo seize
these opportunities for their own
effective management of the
Forest and its benefits.
Astronger future
forMukogodo forest
Continued from page 1
As a result of your
involvement, theGGR
was able to sample
45 counting blocks
covering over 25,000
sq. km
1,2 4,5,6,7,8
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