GREVY'S ZEBRA SCOUTS
“Since the project started we have been seeing the goodness of the work and we enjoy it. We are learning more and didn’t know the importance of Grevy’s zebra at the beginning. Before the project started, Grevy’s zebra were afraid of livestock and people but now they are not afraid. Even the herders accept them to pass next to them. Monitoring of Grevy’s zebra was the responsibility of the scouts, but now it has become the responsibility of the whole community and they report sightings to the scouts.” Chereb Lechooriong, Grevy’s Zebra Scout, Sesia.
The Grevy’s Zebra Trust engages communities through its Grevy’s Zebra Scout Program which has been operating in northern Kenya since 2003, in partnership with Princeton University and the Saint Louis Zoo. Twenty women and men from seven different pastoral communities are employed on a part-time basis by the Program to monitor Grevy’s zebra and at the same time foster positive attitudes towards the species.
All the data collected is important for understanding the dynamics of Grevy’s zebra and their interactions with livestock and people. Data on numbers and age structure is gathered from actual sightings and spoor, and is geo-referenced using GPS units. Habitat, season, water type, other wildlife, livestock and settlement are also recorded. Monitoring of mortalities is of particular importance and Scouts have been taught to age and sex carcasses.
Understanding the seasonal use of water is particularly important for informing future planning of Grevy’s zebra conservation as exclusion from water sources by pastoral people has been identified as a serious threat to successful recruitment into Grevy’s zebra populations (Williams, 1998; Nelson & Williams, 2003).
In the annual Grevy’s Zebra Scout Program workshop, the Scouts make recommendations for Grevy’s zebra conservation based on their local knowledge and on the results of the information they have collected. They are asked to map local resources favoured by Grevy’s zebra, their breeding hotpots, and livestock utilization areas. Community Conservancy Managers affiliated with the program and our other field partners also actively participate in drawing up management recommendations.
Dissemination of the results from the data being collected by the Grevy’s Zebra Scouts back to their communities provides an open forum for discussion of management solutions and sustains a high level of awareness.
The positive effect of the Grevy’s Zebra Scout Program is evident not only on the ground where you can regularly see livestock and Grevy’s zebra sharing resources in communities where the Scout program is active, but it is also evident in the attitudes of community members.