Thursday, March 08, 2007

Zeebs and Peeps

For the next two weeks I'll be back in Kenya for the first time in nearly 8 years. Returning to my home away from home has always been a bittersweet thing. Some of my most awestruck and cathartic moments have occurred on the plains of East Africa. But each time I go back, I'm also struck back down by the unrelenting spread of people across the landscapes. Africa remains the homeland of humanity.

My job this time is to report on the plight of the Grevy's zebra. This symbolic and striking animal, has suffered greatly from human expansion. In 1979 there were an estimated 20,000 Grevys' in Kenya and Ethiopia. Today there are less than 2100, and they continue to dwindle even in last tiny protected pockets. We are really in danger of losing Equus grevyi.

Imagine soon having to teach our children the alphabet: "A is for Apple, in a pie it's a treat... Z is for Zebra, a horse-like creature you'll never meet."

The swahili name for zebra, is punda milia (crying donkey). One night, when I'm far from the light and hum of Nairobi, I'll record their voices and you'll be able to hear why. Serengeti nights will be quieter, and the world much lonelier without them.

Afia boro na salama punda milia. Tutaoana kidogo badai!

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