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Elephant, Grevy's Zebra Populations Rise in Northern Kenya

  • Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Kenya Wildlife Service this weekend concluded an aerial census of elephant and Grevy's zebra populations in the Laikipia-Samburu region, a wildlife-rich area that stretches for almost 18,000 square miles. The elephant population there has increased 5 percent since 2002 and the Grevy's zebra population an estimated 13 percent, the census shows.

KWS conducts the census every three years to take stock of the species' numbers, distribution and trends for management purposes. This is the first year the region's Grevy's zebras were counted systematically rather than estimated based on counts from selected areas.

The area surveyed is home to more than 95 percent of Kenya's Grevy's zebra population as well the country's second largest elephant population. Operating from Samburu Serena Lodge in Buffalo Springs National Reserve, the team conducted the survey over six days, with support from the African Wildlife Foundation and a range of other international partners.

The region's elephant population now stands at 7,468 elephants, from 7,095, according to the team's findings. Kenya's Grevy's zebra population stands at 2,623, up from previous estimates of 2,300.

"The trend is good news overall," says Dr. Phillip Muruthi, Senior Director of Conservation Science at AWF. "But the counts for Grevy's zebras remain especially low, and we must remain vigilant in protecting this endangered species. Once numbering in the tens of thousands and found across East Africa, populations of Grevy's zebras have plummeted since the 1980s, and today the species is found only in northern Kenya and in a few small pockets in southern Ethiopia."

In response to the steady decline, the Kenya Wildlife Service, with support from AWF and other partners, launched the

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