2% of the world’s rarest zebras wiped out in Kenya’s relentless drought
More than 1,400 rare and endangered Kenyan zebras including one species classified as critically endangered were culled in one of Africa’s worst droughts after an international body said it had no choice but to stop imports of the animals under threat from extinction after a dramatic drop in the global population of these animals.
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“We cannot continue to import zebras and continue to watch them go extinct. We had no option but to cancel our imports because there was no alternative, in terms of the international system we operate,” said the Kenya Zoological Society.
The US-based Rare and Endangered Species Conservation (Resc) said on Tuesday that it had had to cease imports of the animals, which include one species of the world’s rarest zebras, the Nubian gerenuk.
Zebras are not native to the North African savannah, which forms large parts of Kenya, but have arrived across the Sahara since the mid-16th century, and are now among the most endangered mammals in the world.
Zebras, which are known as eland in the country of Namibia, can reach 10m in height. The species are one of the most ancient and diverse of all the mammals.
However experts have warned that a continuing drought in southern Africa is threatening the species’ survival, with a number of wild herbivores in Namibia being culled after being unable to graze. There is now a global concern over the impact of the ongoing drought.
“This is a real crisis and the way Forward is now working together for South Africa and Namibia with international partners, like the US Fish and Wildlife Service, to respond to the emergency,” said Ms. Thulani Khumalo, programme manager, Wildlife Conservation and Development of South Africa.
In December 2019, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it had stopped issuing export permits for South African wildlife, including rare animals, over “security reasons.”
This week, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)