The collaboration between the Kenya Wildlife Service Vet and Capture team led by Dr Isaac Lekolol, Mr. Linus Kariuki, Dr Dominic Mijele and Dr Mathew Mutinda with Grevy's Zebra Trust, and Marwell Wildlife to collar 20 Grevy's Zebras in the northern Kenyan landscape is a significant effort to study and conserve this critically endangered species.
Grevy's Zebras are one of the rarest equids globally, and with fewer than 3,000 individuals remaining, their conservation is crucial. Historically, the species inhabited the semi-arid scrublands and plains of Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Kenya. However, due to rapid declines in their population, they are now confined to southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya.
The exercise involves the use of GSM collars, which incorporate GPS and other tracking technologies to monitor the movement patterns of the zebras. This information is vital for understanding how infrastructure developments, particularly the LAPSSET Corridor Program, affect the wildlife routes and habitats of these zebras. By tracking their movements, conservationists can identify potential conflicts and implement measures to mitigate any adverse impacts on the zebras' natural behavior and habitat.
The LAPSSET Corridor Program is an ambitious infrastructure project in Kenya, designed to promote economic development and regional connectivity. This program encompasses several key projects, including a new port at Lamu, interregional highways, a crude oil pipeline, a standard gauge railway, international airports, resort cities, and the High Grand Falls Dam along the Tana River. While these projects are essential for Kenya's economic growth and regional integration, they can also have consequences for wildlife and the environment.
By conducting this exercise and tracking the zebras, conservation partners aim to strike a balance between conservation and development. They seek to demonstrate that infrastructure projects like LAPSSET can coexist with the protection of endangered species and their habitats. Understanding how the zebras interact with these developments will help inform conservation strategies and ensure that their needs are considered in the planning and execution of such projects.
The areas covered in the exercise, including Shaba National Reserve, Buffalo Springs National Reserve, Samburu National Reserve, Lojuk, and Baragoi, which are critical habitats for Grevy's Zebras. Studying their movements in these areas provides valuable insights into how infrastructure projects impact their natural behavior and migration routes.
Ultimately, this collaborative effort exemplifies the importance of balancing development and conservation efforts to protect endangered species and their ecosystems while pursuing economic growth and regional integration in Kenya.