It may sound like something delicious we drizzle over our Sunday roast, but the name ‘Grevy’s zebra’ has rather regal beginnings. In 1882, the Abyssinian Emperor thought the beast so majestic, he gifted one to the French President, Jules Grévy. The species is still sometimes referred to as the ‘Imperial zebra’.

Grevy’s zebras inhabit semi-arid grasslands where they have access to a permanent water source.


Like the other two species of zebra (plains zebra and mountain zebra), every Grevy’s zebra has a unique pattern of stripes, just like a human fingerprint. Some scientists think this is so that they can recognise each other. Most theories agree that zebras have stripes to create an optical illusion for predators.

due to rapid declines in their population, they are now confined to Kenya and Ethiopia.

Grevy’s have narrower stripes than plains zebras.


Of all three zebra species, Grevy’s are the tallest. In fact, they are the largest of all wild equines. Most noticeably, their stripes are thinner, perhaps for even better predator camouflage, and they have beautiful conical ears which stand upright and alert. A striking black dorsal stripe spans the length of their back.

Grevy’s are made of hardier stuff than the common plains zebras. This is because they are uniquely adapted for the harsh arid environment of northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia, which is where they live.

Amazingly, they can survive without water for five days. They also have digestive systems which allow then to eat a wider range of leaves, grasses, fruit and bark than other zebras.


As hardy and adapted as they are, Grevy’s zebras are tragically one of the most endangered large mammals in Africa. From a global population of 15,000 in the late 1970s, there are now a mere 2,800 remaining. Over 90% of these live in northern Kenya.

One of the main challenges facing this endangered species is access to water. With an ever-shrinking habitat due to human encroachment, they must compete with livestock for grazing and water, as well as suffer prolonged periods of drought.

‘From a global population of 15,000 in the late 1970s, there are now a mere 2,800 remaining.’

Map created by The Grevy Zebra Trust comparing historic data of current data of the Grevy’s range.


Fortunately, there is an amazing organisation focused solely on saving this species: The Grevy’s Zebra Trust (GZT). Based near to Sasaab in Westgate Conservancy, this organisation champions ‘citizen science’ (using the general public to collect data) as a way of demystifying scientific research and actively engaging communities in conservation.

The GZT employs 29 Grevy’s Zebra Scouts (over 65% are women) who act as part-time wildlife monitors, alongside ten dedicated Samburu Zebra Warriors and 16 security trained Zebra Ambassadors. ‘Glove Puppet Outreach’ is another example of their ingenious and lively community-driven initiatives which promote the peaceful coexistence of people and wildlife.

Grevy’s zebra live in herds but do not have concrete social systems.


On the 25th and 26th January 2020, the third national census of Grevy’s zebras will take place in northern Kenya. It will be the first-ever global census of this species due to the involvement of Ethiopia.

This citizen science in action will see members of the public embark on an exciting two-day photographic census safari throughout the habitat range of Grevy’s zebras.

There are approximately 2,800 Grevy’s remaining in the wild.

Due to the competition for water, Grevy’s young have a low survival rate.

If you’d like to help in the conservation of this endangered species, then join us at Sasaab in on 25th and 26th January 2020 where we will be taking part and supporting this global census.