2% of the world’s rarest zebras wiped out in Kenya’s relentless drought
It was the worst drought in a century for Kenya, which lost at least 2,000 of its rarest zebras to a freak weather system that swept south from Ethiopia, according to data from the country’s Department of National Parks (DPNI).
The DPNI said its records for the past six months showed that at least 2,027 of the world’s rarest zebras – also known as wildebeests – had died for lack of water.
Zebras are small, stocky, and docile animals that roam around Africa in the wild.
About 100 of the animals are also classified as critically endangered and are thought to be extinct.
Zebras suffer from an array of maladies such as weak or deformed knees.
Their habitat in the drylands of eastern and southern Africa is threatened by erosion, drought and the arrival of alien herders.
The DPNI said the drought was the worst for at least 50 years.
It said the zebras killed were found dead on the grasslands and other open areas of the Nzoia National Park, and the records were complete through February 19.
“The number of dead zebras is not only disturbing, but a loss to Kenya and the region that was hard to estimate the effects to the ecosystem,” the DPNI’s chief executive, Stephen Lothman told AFP.
Kenya gained independence from Britain in 1963 but has been governed by a succession of western-oriented heads of state who have shown little interest in promoting conservation.
Zebras, indigenous to East Africa but hunted for their meat and hides by pastoralists, became a serious conservation issue in the 1970s when a large number of the animals were accidentally released into the wild.
The DPNI said it was sending the zebras to the Nairobi Zoo and hoped to get a number of the