Citizens earn stripes
How do you tell one zebra from another? By looking at their stripes, of course – with a special software that can identify their natural ‘barcode’. This recently allowed conservationists in Kenya to carry out the first ever major census of the Grevy’s zebra, whose population has plummeted from an estimated 15,000 in the early 1980s to an estimated 2500. The Great Zebra Rally was the first time that ‘citizen science’ was used to count the zebra species.
Sheila Funnell, Research Manager, Grevy’s Zebra Trust, said: “Because we do have very low numbers of Grevy’s zebra, every individual that is killed whether for their meat or due to poaching for their skins (which doesn’t happen so often these days) counts.” The trust is working with around 15 local communities to gather the data.
Blessing for electric wildlife fencing poles
Pope Francis blessed three electric wildlife fencing poles made from recycled plastic during last year’s historic visit to Kenya. The blessing for the recycled plastic poles was to revitalise mobilisation and sensitisation of the forest-adjacent communities towards the conservation of Kenya’s montane forests and the electric fences surrounding them.
The three poles will be placed in three separate sites: Mount Kenya, Aberdares and the Mau Forests Complex, all managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service. The poles, each ten feet high and six inches in diameter, are made from recycled plastic waste (mainly greenhouse plastic sheets) as well as broken plastic buckets. These materials are gathered from horticultural farms in Naivasha, cleaning the environment of non-biodegradable plastic litter. The poles are produced at Kingfisher Farm in Naivasha under a partnership agreement between Finlays Horticulture and the Rhino Ark Charitable Trust.
Rhinos in peril
For Africa as a whole, 2014 was the worst year in decades for rhino poaching. Of the four major rhino range states, only Kenya reported a significant fall in rhino poaching of 14 rhinos in 2015 from a high of 35 the previous year. In September, South Africa is hosting the 17th Conference of the Parties to CITES where rhino conservation is bound to be one of the high profile issues under discussion.