Would you like to go on an adventure of a lifetime? Are you a conservation/ wildlife enthusiast? Would like an opportunity to get involved as a citizen scientist? The great grevys rally 2018 is coming up at the end of this month 27th -28th to be specific. I had an opportunity to participate in the rally in 2016 which turned out to be the most epic weekend. If you ask my friends they will tell you I have been talking about it for two years!!
Overview (over-simplified )
The great grevys rally was originally designed to estimate the population of the grevy zebras through photographing the right side of the zebra and later using IBEIS (Image based Ecological Information system) to analyze the data. According to the last census the estimated figure stands at 2350. Grevy Zebras are classified as one of the most endangered mammals and are only found in parts of northern Kenya and Ethiopia.
In this years great grevys rally teams will be photographing both the endangered grevy zebra and reticulated giraffes.
In my post today, I would like to give you guys a guideline on what to expect as a citizen scientist based on my experience in 2016.
How to identify a grevy zebra
- It is slightly bigger than the plain zebra
- It has a white belly
- It has narrow stripes
- It has a broader neck and larger ears.
This is not a comprehensive list but I hope it is a good start before you come up with your own observations once you take part in this event.
There are three species of giraffes in Kenya ( the reticulated giraffe, Rothschild giraffe and Maasai giraffe) since the grevys rally will be taking place in five counties in northern Kenya, Laikipia, Samburu, Isiolo, Meru and Marsabit, you will most likely only see the reticulated giraffes here so you will not have a challenge identifying them.
The rally organizers will provide one GPS enabled camera per team which you will use to photograph the right side of both the grevy zebras and reticulated giraffes. You are supposed to get as close as possible to the animals to take photos but please please do not harass them. You will need a lot of patience since you will find them in groups but the rules of the game dictate that you have to single them out to get good individual photos. This is going to be a challenge but trust me you will enjoy the hide and seek.
PS you are allowed to carry other cameras.
Some will hide in the bush while others will play in the sand in classic donkey style. You will look at your photos at the end of the day and wonder what you were doing but do not worry it is part of the process. The side shows made the experience worthwhile in 2016.
But eventually you will get good photos
The plain zebras will come out to play as well… do not let them confuse you
Now that this time we will be photographing reticulated giraffes as well, I can already foresee a challenge if they behave like the one in the photos below but you have to admit they are pretty amazing photos.
You will find a lot of other animals… photograph them as well, you will appreciate the photos later trust me. Before ggr2016, I had never seen so many elephants in one day and at such close proximity. There was a scary moment though when an elephant charged at our vehicle. We later found out it had a calf…classic protective mother.
Remember to keep a respectful distance.
You will meet amazing people. I met more than half my team on the first day of the rally and they turned out to be amazing people. I also met some cool photographers and reporters from CNN, ran into my high school classmate Beryl Wambani (then working for NTV), the US ambassador to Kenya Bob Godec and the amazing professor Dan Rubenstein popularly known as Zebra Dan for his outstanding research on Zebras.
You will come across amazing landscapes in the five participating counties. If you haven’t chosen a destination yet, allow me to be biased because I am after all #proudly_laikipian… Choose Laikipia. Come and experience Laikipias finest. It may give you a new perspective of Laikipia different from what has dominated the media since late 2016.
Finally, you will have an amazing adventure to jump start your 2018 and you will have contributed towards the conservation efforts for two endangered species.
My question is…What are you waiting for? Register your squad here today! I hope to see you all in Laikipia or read your stories from other participating counties.
Leave a comment or question and I will be happy to answer.