The Great Zebra & Giraffe Count 2015
Every year the Kenya Wildlife Service conducts wildlife counts inside Nairobi National Park, the headquarters for the David Sheldrick Trust. This year it coincided with World Wildlife Day. The count includes the entire park. Eunice Robai and I were on hand to represent the Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) and participated one March 2, 2015. Our assignment was to drive to the east most loop of the National Park photographing all the Zebra and Giraffe within viewing range.
The count was unique this year because Image Based Ecological Information System, IBEIS (www.IBEIS.org) implemented a pilot project using photography, GPS technology and innovative software to document baseline data identifying migration patterns, individual animals, adjustments due to drought, grazing competition and implications for species moving through protected and unprotected corridors. The team included Dan Rubenstein of Princeton University, Tanya Berger-Wolf, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chuck Steward, Computer Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Jason Holmberg, of Wild Me (www.wildme.org).
This information is valuable to wildlife managers and has potentially broad application for tacking elephant movement as well. While we were not tracking elephants we were successful in identifying new animals for the data base. The system works by loading pictures and GPS coordinates into the IBEIS software and “tagging” individual animals. The most difficult part of the exercise was finding zebras and giraffes that were standing in a left profile position. This was one of the criteria for taking the image of any animal.
Here is the report identifying any animal new to the database. Also, pictured her are Chuck Steward, David Gies, Dan Rubenstein, and Eunice Robai.