Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Zebra - Struggling to Survive in East Africa

Grevy's Zebra

The Grevy's zebra is struggling to survive on the dry savanna of East Africa. They subsist on what meager grasses and shrubs are available in the semi-desert. Water is so scarce that the zebras sometimes have to go five days without a drink. In such a forbidding landscape, social structure is non-existent. It's every creature for itself. The one exception is the lasting bond between mare and foal. A newborn zebra will follow anything that moves so it's imperative for the mother to imprint her own striping pattern, scent and vocalization on the baby.

The Grevy's freefall towards eradication began in the 70s as stripes became all the rage in western fashion. Zebras were poached for their striking skins which fetched outrageous prices on the world market. In 1970 there were 15,000 Grevy's zebras in the wild, today there are about 2,000. Rebounding from such a devastating assault has been difficult. The zebras are losing their habitat to increased competition from livestock. Cattle are pushing them away from the best pastures and humans are fencing them out of the precious watering holes.

With Grevy's zebras now seriously endangered, conservationists are working diligently by coordinating with local communities to identify the threats posed to zebras. Spear-headed by sympathetic anti-poaching laws, captive breeding programs and eco-tourism, the population has increased a bit. Hopefully, last-minute efforts such as these will be enough to save the Grevy's zebra from extinction before it's too late.

14 comments:

  1. How do you think we can best keep this stripe of zebra alive? Rein back on livestock? Is that a feasible thing to push for in that region, given food issues?

    It's been wonderful getting to know you across April, Dan. Will certainly keep popping in. One of my highlights of A-to-Z.

    John at The Bathroom Monologues

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    1. I'm not sure what the answer is, they're going to have to learn how to get along together. The humans are going to have to give a little but I also understand it's difficult for all species to live in that region of the world.

      Thanks for playing along. Courtney from Maui Jungalow is who challenged me to get into this thing and I'm glad I did. It's going to be strange getting up in the morning and not going to the computer first thing to click on the publish button.

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  2. Dear Dan: I saw Zebras at the Bronx Zoo last year, but they were brown and white. I know it is difficult to picture animals out of their own environment, but the Bronx Zoo does its very best to create a similar environment for many beautiful animals. I hope that these lovely Zebras which you have discussed keep on surviving for countless years to come.

    I agree with John. You are a terrific person.
    Best Wishes, jean :)

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    1. The zoo can be a great place to see exotic animals, I'm glad the Bronx takes good care of them. I hope the Grevy's continues to rebound. Thanks for all your nice comments it definitely helped me get through this crazy challenge. I'll keep checking in.

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  3. I've got to recommend, The World Without Us, Ch. 6, esp for here: The African Paradox, which talks about the patchwork mosaic of wildlife corridors and patches of habitat that are too disconnected to give migrating animals enough space to move.

    One way to help save African animals is very simple - buy organic roses. Roses are often grown with heavy pesticides in Africa. Kenya apparently still allows the use of DDT, which ends up in the stomachs of dead elephants and other animals. The book I mentioned, says that Kenya is the biggest provider of cut flowers, probably to European markets, but maybe they reach the US too.

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    1. It must be a great book because I've had others recommend it as well, I will check it out. Hopefully it's not too late for the Grevy's. Thanks so much for your support and encouragement getting through this. It's been a great experience.

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  4. Those are beautiful specimens in the photo Dan. Here in South Africa they are not in danger and are quite abundant. I love those zebra often seen where giraffe are. Somehow they go together. I've never seen brown and white I don't think.
    I hope East Africa is able to increase their numbers with careful conservation ...
    And may I add my compliments to you too as the others have done above. It has always been such a pleasure reading your informative posts written with a sensitive and enlivening touch.
    Thank you!

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    1. Down there in South Africa you have the plains zebra that seems to be doing very well. I can only imagine seeing a large herd of zebra and giraffe roaming across the great plains. It was definitely a challenge but I think we made it. I enjoyed following along. Thanks for your support.

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  5. Why is it, man seems only to respond when the ship is sinking vs plugging the wholes before hand. No foreward thinking is such a re-current problem. Congrats on finishing the challenge.

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    1. I don't know why it takes so long sometimes. Hopefully it's not too late. Thanks, it was fun and i learned a lot.

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  6. It's so sad that people can't see that the best place to see zebra stripes is on the zebra!

    Loved visiting during the A to Z challenge Dan, and thanks for all the support on twitter as well. Looking foward to seeing what you do this month!

    Rinelle Grey

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    1. You're welcome, thank you for your consistent support throughout the challenge. I enjoyed following your series of posts, I learned a lot.

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  7. We have Grant's Zebras here in Providence at Roger Williams Park Zoo and they are not endangered. I never realized there were actually endangered Zebras - It's a shame how we are losing so many different species of animals. It is however good to see that they are trying to bring the numbers back on the Grevy Zebras and hopefully will succeed - Congrats on completing the a-z challenge. Loved your posts and pictures as always!

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    1. Yeah, the Grant's Zebra is a plains Zebra more to the south. I think they are doing okay because of the large protected areas down there. The Grevy's habitat is not protected and there is intense competition with domestic livestock for food and water. The A to Z was a great experience but now I'm ready to get back to a regular schedule.

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