Grevy's zebra are confined to the Horn of Africa, specifically Ethiopia and Kenya. The species has undergone one of the most substantial reductions of range of any African mammal. Historically, they were found more widely across the Horn of Africa including Djibouti, Eritrea and Somalia. There was also a reported sighting in southern Sudan but this needs verification.
Map of historic and present distribution of Grevy's Zebra
The historic and present distribution of Grevy's zebra in the Horn of Africa (data assimilated from Kingdon, 1979, 1997; Yalden et al., 1986)
Grevy’s zebra are in crisis and numbers have declined rapidly. Towards the end of the 1970s, the global population of Grevy's zebra was estimated to be approximately 15,000 animals; in 2008 an updated survey estimated approximately 2,500 animals representing more than an 80% decline in global numbers over the past three decades.
A workshop will be held in November 2010 with experts from Kenya and Ethiopia to update the status and distribution of Grevy’s zebra across the region using data from recent surveys.
The last comprehensive survey of Grevy’s zebra in Kenya was undertaken in the year 2008, resulting in an estimated population of 2,407 Grevy’s zebra in the core range of the species. Their far northern range was excluded due to a vast area with low densities making an aerial survey for that area prohibitively expensive. As a follow-up their far northern range was surveyed from the ground in February 2010 with results suggesting a severe decline in the species since the last comprehensive survey in the year 2000. Intermittent sightings of Grevy’s zebra in the area are reported by Tropic Air pilots, with occasional sightings of up to 20 animals, which are likely part of the southern Ethiopian population.
Estimates for Grevy’s zebra populations in Ethiopia suggest a minimum of a 90% decline throughout the country with an estimated 1,900 animals in 1980; 577 animals in 1995; and a further decline to 110 in 2003. The most recent update estimated 126 Grevy’s zebra remaining in Ethiopia (Fanuel Kabede, pers. comm. 2007).
Grevy’s Zebra was listed as Endangered A1a, 2c by the IUCN/SSC Equid Specialist Group. Grevy’s zebra is also listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) which offers them the highest protection against illegal trading. They are legally protected in Ethiopia and since 1977 have been protected by a hunting ban in Kenya. The Kenyan government is currently revising their conservation status from ‘Game Animal’ under the first schedule, Part II in CAP 376 of the Wildlife (Conservation Management) Act to ‘Protected Animal’.
The decline in Grevy’s zebra is primarily the result of killing for meat, medicinal purposes or sometimes at random; loss of access to critical resources due to competition with domestic livestock, especially in years experiencing severe droughts; and an increasing scarcity of these resources as a result of over-exploitation. In addition, there has been a significant, very recent decline in the species in northern Kenya due to disease and drought.
For more detailed information on Grevy’s zebra check out these references:
- Grunblatt et al., 1996; Grunblatt et al., 1989; Klingel, 1980
- IUCN, 2003
- Kingdon, 1997
- Klingel, 1980
- Low, et al., 2009
- Manyibe et al., 2006; Muoria, et al, 2007
- Mwasi & Mwangi, 2007; Fanuel Kabede, pers comm., 2007
- Nelson & Williams, 2003
- Nelson, 2003; Rowen & Ginsberg, 1992; Williams, 2002
- Thouless, 1995
- Williams et al., 2003
- Williams, 2002; Williams & Low, 2004