There are three types of zebra, and the rarest of them all is now found almost exclusively in Kenya, the Grevy’s zebra.
However, the sustained decline in Grevy’s zebra numbers and range has been a major concern to conservationists.
They estimate that the Grevy’s zebra population has declined from an estimated 15,000 in the early 1980s to an estimated 2,500 left in Kenya today.
In comparison to other zebras, the Grevy’s is tall, has large ears, and its stripes are narrower, and it can go for five days without water.
To save the zebras from extinction, researchers from Princeton University have designed new software that can identify their “barcorde”.
“It looks for areas on the body where the stripes are bent and intersect with each other, and they record data and we call them hot spots. And what it does is it compares all the hot spots on the current picture with the hot spot locations on all the pictures in the archive and when there is a high match, we get a high score, and then we know it is the same individual,” said Daniel Rubenstein, Professor of Zoology, Princeton University.
According to the Grevy’s Zebra Trust, this is the first time that “citizen science” is being used to count the Zebra species.
The trust is also working with around 15 local communities from which they have hired scouts to gather data on the zebras, which in turn helps these communities earn small incomes to support their children.