2% of the world’s rarest zebras wiped out in Kenya’s relentless drought
The zebras are an animal you’ll never see in a zoo: They’re African’s answer to buffalos. But even if you do manage to catch sight of a wild African zebra, you’ve probably never seen one in its natural habitat.
That’s because the most famous of Africa’s zebra species are almost certainly extinct.
Zebras are an extremely rare sight on the African savannah. They are also highly threatened by climate change, poaching and habitat loss.
However, a new study found that a species of zebra that lives near the Kenya-Sardinia border and lives on dry savannah grasslands is particularly vulnerable to these factors.
This new record-setting zebra, Nubian or black-handed zebra, may finally be on the increase after being wiped out around 30 years ago, according to the results published last week in the journal Nature.
The new species, called Nubian or black-handed zebra (Equus quagga qaert), was discovered by wildlife officials on 10 of Kenya’s top-most hills in the country’s high arid region.
But getting Nubian zebra under the lens of an animal photographer wasn’t easy.
That’s because the new species lives at a height of over 900m (2,700ft) above sea level.
It’s the height of a church tower, which isn’t something you see every day.
It’s also the height of a skyscraper, as high as the Empire Hotel in London.
Zebra have been known to live high up in the sky and it’s believed that they spend their entire life there because when they’re born they’re still in the mother’s pouch, so as to avoid predators.
But even before reaching adulthood, zebra are highly vulnerable to the elements thanks to their thick hide.
“At the peak of the dry season, they spend a month underground and then emerge in late March only to quickly lose their foothold and die within a few days, after being forced to travel so far underground that they end up under water,” explained Michael Dibble of Cambridge University, who led the research on Nubian zebra.
As a result, during the dry season zebra are hunted by crocodiles, jackals and hyenas.
“By late summer the zebra