Title graphic Kenya's Endangered Zebras
Grevy's zebras
Plains zebras
African elephants

Giraffes
Beisa oryx
Cheetah
Lions
Waterbuck
Leopard tortoise
Lilac-breasted roller
Little bee-eaters
Landscapes
In June 2010 I volunteered on an Earthwatch research project which is working to secure the future of the Grevy's zebra. These Endangered animals are now found only in Kenya and (in small numbers) Ethiopia, with the total population estimated at 2000 to 2500. The species' last stronghold is the Samburu region of northern Kenya, where the Earthwatch project is based. Grevy's are charismatic and photogenic, and the many hours that we spent in their presence gave us lots of opportunities to observe everything from solitary stallions and huge herds to sparring youngsters and new foals. Many of the zebras live on unprotected community lands where most of the larger wild mammals have been displaced by people and their livestock, but we were also able to visit the Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserves and see some of the Kenyan wildlife that is now largely restricted to protected areas.
Grevy's zebras
The Grevy's is the biggest of the three zebra species and has characteristic narrow stripes, large 'oval' ears and an incredibly cute, doleful expression. Unlike other zebras, the dominant males don't defend a harem of females but instead defend a territory, mating with females in herds which pass through. Mares and their offspring form loose, temporary associations with other females and youngsters, and subordinate males eventually leave these family groups to form bachelor herds. Each animal has a pattern of stripes as unique as a human fingerprint, and this is being used to develop photo-identification catalogues (although it's not yet known whether twins have identical stripes!).
Grevy's zebras sparring Grevy's zebras
Grevy's zebra Grevy's zebras
Grevy's zebra mother & foal Grevy's zebra
Grevy's zebras Grevy's zebras sparring
Grevy's zebras sparring Grevy's zebras
Grevy's zebras Grevy's zebras
Grevy's zebra stallion Grevy's zebra stallion
Grevy's zebras Grevy's zebras
Grevy's zebras
Grevy's zebra foal Grevy's zebra mother & foal
Grevy's zebras

Plains zebras
The range of the much more common plains (or Burchell's) zebra overlaps with that of the Grevy's - these animals were on community lands at Ngoroni. Plains zebras have much broader stripes that continue under their bellies, and are smaller and not as thick-set as the Grevy's.
Plains or Burchell's zebras

African elephants
The elephants seem to know where the protected areas are - we saw none outside the Reserves but they were relatively common in both Samburu and Buffalo Springs. However elephants do move along ancient migration routes though unprotected lands, and the growth of human settlements on or near these routes causes conflict between people and elephants.
African elephants bathing and drinking
African elephant African elephant
African elephant crossing the road
African elephants sparring African elephant mother & calf

Giraffes
The giraffes in Samburu and Buffalo Springs are reticulated giraffes, a subspecies found only in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. Their coat pattern of sharply-defined chestnut patches with almost white borders makes them look quite distinct from the other subspecies found elsewhere in Africa.
Giraffe
Giraffes

Beisa oryx
The beisa or eastern oryx is a different species from the gemsbok found in southern Africa, but quite similar in appearance. These animals were in Buffalo Springs National Reserve.
Beisa or eastern oryx
Beisa or eastern oryx

Cheetah
On an early morning drive through Samburu National Reserve this cheetah trotted across the track ahead of our vehicle and briefly sat down in the long grass before disappearing into the scrub.
Cheetah
Lions
On a drive through Buffalo Springs National Reserve we gave a lift to two Kenya Wildlife Service rangers who directed us to where a family of lions was sheltering from the heat in some bushes. We never would have spotted them from the road otherwise.
Lion cub Lioness

Waterbuck

Waterbuck, Samburu National Reserve
Leopard tortoise

Leopard tortoise, Buffalo Springs National Reserve

Lilac-breasted roller
Lilac-breasted roller, Buffalo Springs National Reserve Lilac-breasted roller, Buffalo Springs National Reserve
Lilac-breasted roller, Buffalo Springs National Reserve
Little bee-eaters

Little bee-eaters, Wamba

Landscapes

Dawn at Ngoroni
Dawn at Ngoroni
Ewaso Nyiro River
Ewaso Nyiro River
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Last updated 13 January 2011