Arrival at the Grevy’s Zebra Research Camp

About the Author

Paul Thomson worked with African Wildlife Foundation in Nairobi for a year before moving to Washington D.C. Paul has worked at the Madrid Aquarium and at the Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands outside San Francisco. He was born in New Zealand but grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Paul… More

I’m in a town called Wamba at the foot of the Mathews Range. This is the site of Dr. Paul Muoria’s research on endangered Grevy’s zebras, and I’ll be visiting him for the next few days.
Camp is basic but comfortable. Muroia shares it with Earth Watch, which brings volunteers out to the field to aid scientists with their research for short periods. There’s a mess hall and kitchen, simple dormitories, and a work room / “lab.”
The generator came on at 5:30a.m. and surprisingly, I was already awake. By 6:30, a group of volunteers and I climbed into the Land Rover with Mjomba, our driver, and Geoff, a young, sharp Samburu who is an intern for Dr. Muoria’s Grevy’s research and conservation project.

We made our way to West Gate Conservancy on the Ngitok Ongiron Group Ranch, where we spent the morning collecting behavioral data on mare-foal pairs of Grevy’s.

Grevy’s aren’t just zebras. They are spectacular creatures, strikingly different than plains or Burchell’s zebras. Their stripes are finer, softer, and don’t fully wrap around the belly, leaving a nice white underside. The ears are larger, less sharp, more disc-like. Perhaps what I like most is their stature. They seem more sturdy, grander. Today was the first time I’ve seen a Burchell’s grazing with a group of Grevy’s so it was interesting to make a side-by-side comparison. The Burchell’s zebra, with its big ol’ rump, looks like it needs to hit the gym when standing next to the Grevy’s. Sorry, Burchell’s.

What do you think? Is it just me or is the Grevy’s the most beautiful of the equines?

Burchell's zebra
Grevy's zebra