Partnering with local communities to identify conservation priorities for endangered Grevy's zebra

Belinda Low, Siva R. Sundaresan, Ilya R. Fischhoff, Daniel Ian Rubenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Setting wildlife conservation priorities and determining how to meet them is challenging, particularly when policy decisions made at large scales need to be informed by a diversity of local conditions. The persistence of species that range widely demands that they coexist with people both within and outside formally protected areas. It is often politically and financially infeasible for one central body, such as a government wildlife agency, to monitor an entire population. Therefore, conservation planners are increasingly turning to local knowledge to inform conservation decisions. Here, we show the scientific and conservation benefits of recruiting and training local community members to collect data on an endangered species, the Grevy's zebra (Equus grevyi). We recruited 18 scouts from six community-held ranches in Samburu District, Kenya. The scouts record the location, group structure and habitat of all Grevy's zebra herds seen in walking surveys. Kernel analyses of scout herd observations indicate areas heavily used by Grevy's zebra, and the subset of these areas favored by females with young foals. The important areas identified by the scouts closely match those inferred from analyses of GPS radiocollar data. Further, scout data reveals extensive spatial and temporal overlap between livestock and Grevy's zebra. This overlap suggests the potential for competition between Grevy's zebra and domestic animals. We argue that scout programs such as ours can generate valuable insights for conservation planning. In addition, such programs have the potential to improve local attitudes toward wildlife conservation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1548-1555
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Conservation
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


  • Capacity building
  • Citizen science
  • Community monitoring
  • Grevy's zebra
  • Kenya
  • Pastoralism
  • Samburu
  • Savannah ecosystems


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