Wildlife Survey Techniques in Samburu Heartland

General Inquiries


Tel:+254 711 063 000

Ngong Road, Karen, P.O. Box 310
00502 Nairobi, Kenya

A recent wildlife survey in the Laikipia District of central Kenya in February 2001 provided an opportunity to test a Zebra Simulation Model developed by The Mpala Research Centre. This predictive model can estimate the total number of zebras present in a given area. The prediction for this year, according to the model, was 23,726. Compared to the actual number of zebras found through traditional survey techniques in February was 26,095. This is a difference of 9% and represents an accurate substitute for more costly sampling methods. The model prediction for the zebras last year was also quite accurate and the estimates from this model have become essential for setting crop quotas and allowing counts to be done every two years, which is very cost effective.

The model showed a decline in the number of zebras for this year resulting from the effects of a severe drought that occurred in the area. Other wildlife species were also affected by the drought. For example, the number of sheep, goats and Grant's gazelles increased significantly while the number of cattle decreased. The rise in numbers of various species can most likely be attributed to migration. Most importantly, the total figure for wildlife is the lowest it has ever been. These sample counts are done in place of total counts due to difficulties associated with tracking population movements. Total counts are for large, visible animals that occur in clustered herds, such as elephants.

The African Wildlife Foundation contributed financial support to these innovative wildlife survey efforts and we continue to be an active partner in the Samburu Heartland.