One of the main threats to Grevy’s zebra is limited access to water. Their range in Northern Kenya falls in arid to semi-arid habitat with limited permanent water sources. People and livestock also share these same resources and during times of environmental stress, such as droughts, the pressure on the available water increases.
We therefore manage dry season water access to alleviate the stress on Grevy’s zebra, and ensure they have access throughout the long dry season of July to October. This intervention significantly improves the chances of survival for Grevy’s zebra populations in areas where they are particularly vulnerable during the dry season, and helps other wildlife in the same areas.
We manage water access in several ways:
- Construction of dedicated drinking troughs for wildlife at existing community bore holes
- Digging shallow wells in dry season river beds for exclusive wildlife use
- Filling temporary troughs at wells that are too deep for Grevy’s zebra to access
We engage Water Monitors from the local community to manage these water points on a daily basis. They also monitor utilisation of the water by sweeping the area around the water source each evening and then counting the spoors early the next morning. In areas which are more remote, our Water Monitors deploy camera traps to capture drinking activity.
Grevy’s zebra drink mostly at night in community areas because water is occupied throughout the day by people and livestock. Although most of our managed water sources are not used by people during the day, they are still located within close proximity to water points that are used by people and livestock because of the limited distribution of water. Grevy’s zebra and other wildlife therefore avoid these areas until people and livestock have dispersed.
In Laisamis where our Grevy’s Zebra Warriors operate, we monitor the Grevy’s zebra population when herds come to drink water at night. Laisamis is the most arid region that we work in and water is scarce, and the majority of the Grevy’s zebra in this region use the Laisamis River as their main water source. We therefore use this opportunity to monitor the population by setting camera traps around the water pools in the Laisamis River.
Our aim is to capture the stripe patterns of the Grevy’s zebra while drinking to enable us to use stripe-identification methods to monitor the population. We use methods and software developed by Dr Jim Sanderson from the
Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation for study design, data processing, and analysis, and is freely available online. We are also able to monitor the presence of other wildlife in the region giving us valuable information on the region’s biodiversity.