Ground survey to be conducted of rare zebra species in Kenya.
Wildlife officials in Kenya are conducting a ground survey to establish the number of a rare desert zebra species, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).
''The principal aim of the survey is to quantify the threat of extinction faced by the small, potentially isolated, sub populations of this special zebra known as 'Grevy's zebra,' found in northern Kenya,'' said Martin Mulama, KWS research scientist.
It is estimated that only 4,500 Grevy's zebras are left in the wild, with 85% found in northern Kenya and the remainder in Ethiopia. The species has been extinct in Somalia since 1973.
Researchers say that at one time more than 13,000 of the zebras were recorded in northern Kenya.
''This is not the case today, as the number crashed to about 4,000 in the 1980s due to competition with people and livestock and illegal poaching,'' researchers said in a statement.
The KWS, in collaboration with the Department of Resource Sensing, typically conducts aerial surveys of Kenyan rangelands to estimate wildlife populations.
The most recent aerial survey conducted in Kenya in June 1999 estimated the number of Grevy's zebras to be 865. However, the region is believed to host about 2,700 of the zebras.
As a result, the KWS decided to make a ground survey of the animals, which are sparsely distributed and difficult to detect from the air.
Kenya also is home to the Plain's zebra, which are common through sub-Saharan Africa, and smaller than the Grevy's zebra.