Grevys Zebra Project
From afar you might mistake the Grevy’s Zebra for it’s more common relative, the plains zebra. But side by side the Grevy’s zebra looks like a stallion next to a carnival pony. Grevy’s are only found in Northern Kenya and Southern Ethiopia and are highly endangered.
I photographed the Grevy’s Zebra while I was in East Africa for my Enemies Project, when I spent several weeks documenting the work of the Grevy’s Zebra Trust. While providing media for the GZT I was also able to document the unique partnership they had helped forge with the Samburu and Turkana tribes in Northern Kenya.
What happens when people are paid to help wildlife…
The conservation world knows that people with little resources will not try to protect wildlife if it does not benefit them. Northern Kenya is an area with little economic opportunity, so the Grevy’s Zebra Trust hires people from the Samburu and Turkana tribe to protect the Grevy’s Zebra that live on their land.
This arrangement brings jobs to Samburu and Turkana men who can use the skills they learn as young moran (warriors) in their work. This approach to solving the problem of human-wildlife conflict is working, and it was an amazing opportunity to spend time with the stoic and beautiful people of northern Kenya.
Grevys Zebra staff conferring in the field in northern Kenya
A herd of Grevy’s Zebra graze in front of a morning rainbow on Samburu Conservancy land.
When they come of age, young Samburu men are expected to become moran – the traditional warriors who hunt and protect the village. Young men training to be moran learn to track and hunt animals and practice skills for defending their villages from aggressive neighbors. The Grevy’s Zebra Trust hires young moran, whose skills fit perfectly with the job of protecting wildlife.
This man works with one of the Samburu land conservancies, and collaborates closely with the Grevy’s Zebra Trust.
While I was in Samburuland I was lucky to attend a coming of age ceremony when all the moran come in from the bush to celebrate their peers becoming men.
During my trips to Kenya I created a set of Wildlife Prints to raise funds for wildlife conservation efforts.
The prints include images from this work with the Grevy’s Zebra Trust as well as an Elephant Relocation Project I documented with the Kenya Wildlife Service and World Wildlife Fund.