2018 has begun on an exciting high here at Explore.org’s home of African wildlife. This marks nearly four years since the installation of live streaming cameras deep in the heart of Laikipia’s wild plateau, along the Ewaso Ng’iro river. Over this time, viewers and camera operators have had enlightening conversations and insights with almost 100,000 comments.
Back at Mpala’s hippo pool, we have seen the early return of a Nile crocodile, big splashes by our ever-present hippos and traffic to our educational content at mpalalive.org remaining steady at well over 4000 visitors each week. We are especially proud that more then 60 percent of those access the downloadable lesson plans in the Classroom section.
Of the 88 species featured on Mpala’s Field Guide, January 2018 is special for the Grevy’s zebra, and for the first time this year, the ever graceful reticulated giraffe. It is the Great Grevy’s Rally month in which scientists and hundreds of citizens participate in a two-day event in Northern Kenya designed to provide accurate estimates of the current numbers and distribution of these majestic species. Both are not only beautiful and rare but endangered and threatened. As explained by scientists at Mpala, the method employed in getting accurate estimates involves the photographing of all sighted Grevy’s and reticulated giraffe. The GPS tagged images are then processed using an advanced computational system that employs an algorithm to match images from any striped, spotted, or patterned animal. Over 500 volunteers participated in the last rally in 2016. We are hoping to surpass those numbers this month. The tally will tell us how 2017’s drought and the invasion by hundreds of pastoralists affected the Grevy’s population.
As we approach GGR2018, viewers on Explore.org can participate by creating awareness of these iconic species. Snap as many photos as you can using the live cams and spread the word. We’ll be posting regularly on Mpala’s Facebook page as the rally approaches.
Victor Kasii @mpalalive