2% of the world’s rarest zebras wiped out in Kenya’s relentless drought
In May and June, drought in Kenya’s Rift Valley killed a record number of zebras. The numbers continue to climb. So far this year, some 20,000 zebras have been killed for their entire lives, according to a study on the matter published in Nature.
The zebras aren’t the only animals that have been wiped out in the drought. The list is long. But what’s even more staggering is that in most cases, the causes have been completely obscure, even by wildlife biologists.
Some of the most horrific records in the past few years relate to primates. In 2012, researchers concluded that the drought was a genocide: a man-made event, with farmers from neighboring, dry countries, or the government of neighboring, dry countries, or even some rogue monkeys, responsible for wiping out the world’s remaining populations of the red colobus monkey.
Other examples of animal extinction include the Nile crocodile (2016), the African lion (2012), the African wild dog (2008) and the cheetah (2015).
This year, in one of the most devastating cases of animal extinction in recent memory, experts are looking for clues that the drought was man-made.
The zebras are a very special species. While other zebras live in East Africa, the Somali zebras live on their own, in their own little world. They range over the grasslands of the Horn of Africa, traveling a total of 200 kilometers (125 miles) a day from the edge of the Serengeti Plain to the edge of the desert. Their home ranges are estimated at about 150,000 square kilometers (57,000 square miles).
The droughts have led to their demise.
With an estimated population of between 7,500 and 10,000 animals, the zebras are very rare, and not only because of the drought.