GREVY'S ZEBRA AMBASSADORS
In areas where Grevy’s zebra populations are rapidly declining, the Trust is developing its Grevy’s Zebra Ambassador Program. The El Barta plains in northern Kenya were historically a Grevy’s zebra hotspot; today, despite an abundance of available resources, estimates of less than 100 Grevy’s zebra remain in the area. The main threat they face is killing for subsistence food. Grevy’s Zebra Ambassadors are employed from both the Turkana and Samburu communities in the El Barta region to ensure that these two ethnic groups work together to address the situation.
Grevy’s zebra is being used as a flagship species to promote the overall conservation of wildlife in the area and is being used as an entry point to facilitate peace talks between both ethnic groups who periodically come into conflict over livestock and resources.
The Grevy’s Zebra Ambassadors are trained in security and surveillance operations. Through provision of uniforms and communications equipment, the security network is being expanded and strengthened across the area. We work with the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Milgis Trust to follow up any incidents of insecurity in the areas patrolled by Grevy’s Zebra Ambassadors.
Grevy’s Zebra Ambassadors facilitate regular informal meetings with community members they come into contact with on their daily patrols and, more formally, will be holding annual meetings with their communities to facilitate knowledge exchange, track program progress, share recommendations and receive direct input into local conservation plans.
The Grevy’s Zebra Ambassadors use the same data sheets as the Grevy’s Zebra Scouts. All the data collected are important for understanding the dynamics of Grevy’s zebra in the area 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 Ambassadors have been taught to age and sex carcasses. Follow-up of any poaching incidents is recorded to ensure that appropriate procedures were implemented.