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Why are Kenya and Ethiopia the only places you can see the Grévy's zebra in the wild?

Anthea Graham By Anthea Graham
25 Jan 2018
2 Kenya - Grévy's, Imperial Zebra and Acacia.jpg

Every year at the end of January we celebrate International Zebra Day. Did you know that one of the species is on the SERIOUSLY ENDANGERED LIST?

Less common than even the rhino, the Grévy's zebra is now endangered with the total population having declined from 15,000 to under 3,000 since the 1970’s.


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The largest of all wild equines, the Grévy's zebra is found only on the continent of Africa in Kenya and Ethiopia, having alarmingly disappeared from much of its previous range, including Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea and Sudan.

  • As with so many other African species, poaching is a large reason for the reduction.
  • Other major factors in the decline have been habitat loss and competition for water and vegetation from agriculture and livestock. According to the Grevy's Zebra Trust, the increasing scarcity of water resources has caused a higher rate of foal mortality.
  • Diseases, including anthrax, have also increased Grevy's zebra mortality.

They were named after Jules Grévy, then president of France, who, in the 1880s, was given one by the government of Abyssinia (Ethiopia). Differing from the other zebra species, they have large ears and narrower stripes. They can go without water for up to 5 days. Mostly grazers, they live on grasses and herbaceous plants but during very dry periods they also browse.


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So where can you see Grévy's zebra in the wild?

In Kenya – a safari incorporating the Laikipia region or northern Samburu will ensure good sightings of these beautiful creatures. Lewa House, Lewa Wilderness, Sirikoi, Sasaab and Laikipia Wilderness are all wonderful places to stay, each offering something different but all allowing you to get close up viewings of Grévy's zebra.

At the famous Lewa-Borana Wildlife Conservancy in Northern Kenya, one can also actively participate in their invaluable wildlife conservation efforts. On this special Conservation Safari guests can be part of the ranger team helping to track, locate and count game species for the annual wildlife census.  


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Alternatively you can spend time in Ethiopia – which is one of Africa’s most compelling and interesting countries.   Totally different to many other of Africa’s safari destinations, from the Blue Nile to the dramatic Gheralta Mountains, the arid Danakil Desert and the Omo Valley, the landscapes are astounding and varied. Ethiopia's wildlife is also diverse, from savannah animals in the east to unique indigenous creatures like the gelada baboon and Ethiopian wolf.


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A few days at Halledeghe – vast grassland plains by the Afar lands in a mobile camp would yield uncommon wildlife and outstanding birdlife including Beisa oryx, Grévy's zebra, hyaena, lesser kudu, jackals, Somali ostrich and warthogs, even lion, leopard aardvark and occasionally cheetah.

The magic of Ethiopia must also be the fascinating people – with their unique ancient traditions. Nowhere in the world is as well endowed with traditional and tribal cultures than Ethiopia - a medieval world, with Christian beliefs and practices little changed in thousands of years.


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What is being done: The Grévy's Zebra Trust was set up in 2007.

  • Employ local people to monitor and protect Grévy's zebra.
  • Incorporate both human and wildlife interests in all the programmes.
  • Provide training workshops to aid local conservation stewardship.
  • Restore habitat by encouraging planned grazing for livestock.
  • Encourage water management in the dry season.
  • Support secondary school education for pastoral children.


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General Zebra facts:

  • A zebra’s stripe patterns are unique to each individual, just like a human fingerprint.
  • Animal experts believe the disorienting pattern of the stripes deter biting flies from zeroing in on zebras. They will typically avoid zebras altogether.
  • At birth, a foal’s legs are already almost as long as those of an adult. Within 20 minutes of birth, the zebra is on the run. Zebra can even run at top speeds of almost 40 miles per hour.
  • The hind legs of zebra can deliver powerful kicks to break the jaw of a predator.


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