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Grevy's Zebras

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The Grevy's Zebra (Equus grevyi) is an endangered species. Its range once extended through Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. In the 1970's there were close to 14,000 individuals. Today the Leewa game reserve officials report there are likely only 2,000 individuals left. This short video asks the question, "Why are the Grevy's Zebras in trouble?" The Wild Classroom correspondent and Ecogeek Rich Blundell reports on the situation from Kenya.

More information on the Grevy's Zebra:

The Grevy's Zebras are one of the easiest species to identify in the field. Not only are they the largest of the four Zebra species, but they have very narrow, fine stripes that cover the body.

Grevy's Zebra Equus grevyi

Conservation risk

Why are the Grevy's Zebras going extinct? This is a tricky question that doesn't really have one answer. To start with their native range is being cut dramatically. These Zebra normally inhabit higher and drier regions of Ethiopia and Somalia. Yet, because of civil unrest in those countries, most of the Zebras have been hunted out.

The behavior of these Zebras also plays an important role. Unlike the Plains Zebras, the Grevy's Zebras are more solitary when they have fawns. Because new mothers must visit watering holes twice a day when they have young they put themselves in high risk areas. Lions like to hunt around watering holes you see.

It doesn't help that the only time they're given to drink from these watering holes is at dawn and dusk when the local tribes aren't letting their cattle use the water. Thus, the solitary nature of these beasts combined with being forced to go to watering holes when lions are most apt to hunt makes their survival in this region difficult.

Grevy's Zebra Equus grevyi

Finally, cattle help spread an internal parasite that further weakens the immune system of the Grevy's Zebra. This parasite (as seen in the video), is a sign that the animals are stressed.

Could increased droughts push the Zebra's survival over the edge? Could this be the result of Global warming and one of our first big casualties of this widespread phenomenon?

Lets hope its not a sign of more to come.

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