US Ambassador Robert Godec is among luminaries expected to participate in a public census of the endangered Grevy's Zebra in the Laikipia plains this weekend.
The exercise, dubbed the Great Grevy's Rally, will take place tomorrow and Sunday across Isiolo, Samburu and Marsabit counties, where the zebras live.
The is the second time in Kenya that “citizen science” will be used to count the number of an animal species.
The first was the crowd-sourced count of zebras and giraffes at the Nairobi National Park last year.
Dino Martins, the executive director of Mpala Research Centre, who are among the organisers, said preparations begin today when all teams travel to their survey location.
“Each team will drive through Nanyuki where the Great Grevy’s Rally organisers will welcome participants at the Nanyuki Sports Club to deploy the rally materials and provide training on data collection,” he said.
The organisers said the first 50 vehicle teams of citizen scientists will be assigned an area to census and GPS enabled camera to capture the right flank of every individual Grevy's zebra observed during the two days.
Tomorrow evening, the participants will enjoy a sundowner with a view of the beautiful landscape and prepare for day two of the survey.
Each Grevy’s zebra has a unique stripe pattern, which allows experts to identify each individual.
The photographs will be processed by the Image Based Ecological Information System (IBEIS), which will identify the individual and its age and sex, and will record the observational time and location. The IBEIS results will estimate the size of the Grevy’s zebra population throughout Kenya.
The Grevy’s Zebra population has plummeted from an estimated 15,000 in the early 1980s to the estimated 2,500 left in Kenya today. A few others reside in Ethiopia.
Compared with other zebras, the Grevy is tall, has large ears, and its stripes are narrower, and it can go for five days without water.
More information is available at www.greatgrevysrally.com.