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iWild: For more see iWild.org

The Most Beleaguered Animal in Africa

Mountain gorilla, elephant, rhino? Not necessarily. In the land wars, the biggest loser—the species that has rapidly lost the largest range and the greatest numbers in recent years—is the Grevy’s Zebra, Today’s Endangered All-Star. From 15,000 in the 1970s, the population has fallen to less than 3,000. Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Sudan once formed its natural territory, but climate change, overgrazing, and civil war have taken a severe toll on this grazer of arid grasslands. The zebra now persists, in fragmented populations, only in small areas of Ethiopia and northern Kenya and is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. But there is hope: The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy—transformed by the Craig family from a struggling cattle ranch to a vibrant reserve for rhino and other threatened species—has become a center of Grevy’s research, allowing its resident zebra population to gather strength. A model to the Maasai and Samburu group ranches to the north, Lewa has inspired struggling pastoralists to band together in the Northern Rangelands Trust, setting aside land for wildlife and improving the quality of their remaining grazing land as they develop ecotourism lodges. As the Trust has taken hold, the Grevy’s Zebra at Lewa have begun to filter out into the newly preserved land, returning to old haunts for the first time in years. To learn more about Grevy’s Zebra, Lewa, and the Northern Rangelands Trust, see my book, Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution. Lewa and the Trust could use your donations. Better yet, plan a visit to the spectacular community lodges at Il Ngwesi, Sarara Camp, Tassia, or stay at Lewa’s own lodging. It’s only 107 days until Lewa’s annual fundraising event, the Safaricom Marathon on June 26, 2010, supporting health clinics, schools, and conservation in the region. Run in the only marathon held on a game reserve, and don’t worry about the lions: Spotter aircraft will keep you from becoming their next meal. The Grevy’s Zebra might not be so lucky.
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