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Translocating Grevy's zebras to boost the population in Northern Kenya

20/11/2012 15:57:30
world/Africa_2012/grevy_pejeta

Grevy's zebra being released onto Ol Pejeta

Grevy's zebra moved to Ol Pejeta
November 2012. Since the early 1990's, the Grevy's zebra population on Ol Pejeta has not grown for several years due to predation pressure and the small population size. So in September 2012, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, in collaboration with the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) translocated, Grevy's zebras from Lewa to Ol Pejeta.

8 female zebra translocated
Eight female Grevy's zebras were moved from Lewa to Ol Pejeta in a bid to create a viable breeding population and hopefully increase the number of Grevy's in the conservancy in the long-term. This move brought the total number of Grevy's zebras on Ol Pejeta to 21 individuals.

The translocation exercise started at 6 a.m. with a briefing by Lewa's Chief Conservation Officer, Geoffrey Chege, and Kenya Wildlife Service veterinarian, Dr. Matthew Mutinda. The team then set off in search of young female Grevy's without any foals which were considered suitable candidates for translocation. Once identified, the Grevy's zebras were darted, immobilized and moved into a translocation van where the tranquilizer was reversed to wake them up. It was an intensive exercise requiring immense team effort that lasted close to eight hours.

After all eight Grevy's were safely in the translocation van, the KWS team set off for Ol Pejeta. On Ol Pejeta, the Grevy's zebras were released into the endangered species boma, which is a predator proof enclosure aimed at consolidating the numbers of different endangered species and increasing their chances of breeding. Grevy's zebras on Ol Pejeta were separated from the common zebras last year and moved into the endangered species boma to prevent hybridization with the common zebra since their offspring are more often than not sterile.

The eight new Grevy's zebras were closely monitored by patrol teams in the boma over the first few days after their move. During the first three days, they grazed in a separate group from the resident Grevy's, however on the fourth day they had settled and were grazing together with the resident Grevy's zebras.

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy works hard to secure the future of all endangered species and increasing the population of Grevy's zebra in the Conservancy is a step in the right direction for the future of the species.

Grevy's zebra (Equus grevyi) are listed as endangered and can only be found in some parts of northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia. The name Grevy's zebra was coined from Jules Grévy, former President of France, who, in the 1880s, was given one as a gift by Menelik II, Emperor of Abyssinia.

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