Zebra

Zebra, Plains

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  • Information
  • Conservation
  • Lifestyle

Description

Zebra are one of Africa’s most distinctive families of animals with their equine build, and characteristically bold black and white stripes. Every individual has a unique striping pattern, similar to a human fingerprint. The stripes continue up into a stiff bristly mane which stands upright, making it appear as an extension of the neck. Some zebra stripes are a faint grey color or may be a brown ‘shadow’ stripe in the white region. Plains zebra can be distinguished from other species of zebras because the stripes on their flanks meet on their bellies, both mountain and Grevy’s zebra lack stripes on their bellies.

Classification

Class
Mammalia
Order
Perissodactyla
Family
Equidae
Genus
Equus
Species
E. quagga
Conservation Status
Least Concern

Key Facts

Height
85-95 in (~220-245 cm)
Weight
385-850 lb (~175-385 kg)

The IUCN Red List describes Equus quagga as a species of Least Concern with a stable population estimated at around 660,000 individuals. This count includes all five extant morphologically distinct sub-species.

* Safari West currently houses two of the six morphologically distinct sub-species;
Damara zebra (E. q. 
chapmani) and Grant’s zebra (E. q. boehmi).

Social Life
Zebra herds are composed of a dominant male, with multiple females and their offspring. Males are generally non-territorial but defend their harem aggressively. Young males remain with the herd until they reach around 1-4 years of age before dispersing. Upon leaving the herd these juveniles will join bachelor herds, composed of 2-15 males, until they are ready to fight for their own harem. Females in a harem maintain strong bonds, with a dominant female leading the others in a single file, with the other mares lining up according to age. Foal rank follows that of the mother. The dominant male typically brings up the rear of the line in order to defend the herd in case of predator attack. When migrating, several harems will join together and form one large herd. If threatened or chased individuals reach speeds up to 55 mph (88 kph).

Habitat and Range
Zebra are found in grasslands, savannas, scrubs and open woodlands and throughout southeastern Africa, with the highest population densities in the Serengeti-Mara plains of Tanzania and Kenya.

Diet
Plains zebra are herbivores that primarily graze on grass. Since they are not ruminates they can consume the nutritionally poor and coarse grasses that ruminants must eat. Zebras eat by grasping the grass blades with their lips and clipping it with their upper lip and lower incisors. This stimulates the growth of other grasses that ruminants such as wildebeest and gazelles rely on.

Lifespan
In the wild zebra live an average of 9 years, while in captivity can survive up to 40 years. Young are particularly vulnerable to predation with around 50% of juveniles perishing in the first year of life.

Predators
Zebra are the second most preyed upon large animal in Africa, after the wildebeest. Lions, spotted hyenas, painted dogs, cheetahs, leopards and crocodiles will all hunt these animals. Females protect their young if attacked with powerful kicks, pushes, and by biting at the predator.

Reproduction
Sexual maturity: Male: 16-22 months, Female: 16-22 months
Mating Season: Year-round
Birth Season:     Year-round, peaking during the rainy season
Gestation:           12-13 months
No. of Young:      1

Information

Description

Zebra are one of Africa’s most distinctive families of animals with their equine build, and characteristically bold black and white stripes. Every individual has a unique striping pattern, similar to a human fingerprint. The stripes continue up into a stiff bristly mane which stands upright, making it appear as an extension of the neck. Some zebra stripes are a faint grey color or may be a brown ‘shadow’ stripe in the white region. Plains zebra can be distinguished from other species of zebras because the stripes on their flanks meet on their bellies, both mountain and Grevy’s zebra lack stripes on their bellies.

Classification

Class
Mammalia
Order
Perissodactyla
Family
Equidae
Genus
Equus
Species
E. quagga
Conservation Status
Least Concern

Key Facts

Height
85-95 in (~220-245 cm)
Weight
385-850 lb (~175-385 kg)
Conservation

The IUCN Red List describes Equus quagga as a species of Least Concern with a stable population estimated at around 660,000 individuals. This count includes all five extant morphologically distinct sub-species.

* Safari West currently houses two of the six morphologically distinct sub-species;
Damara zebra (E. q. 
chapmani) and Grant’s zebra (E. q. boehmi).

Lifestyle

Social Life
Zebra herds are composed of a dominant male, with multiple females and their offspring. Males are generally non-territorial but defend their harem aggressively. Young males remain with the herd until they reach around 1-4 years of age before dispersing. Upon leaving the herd these juveniles will join bachelor herds, composed of 2-15 males, until they are ready to fight for their own harem. Females in a harem maintain strong bonds, with a dominant female leading the others in a single file, with the other mares lining up according to age. Foal rank follows that of the mother. The dominant male typically brings up the rear of the line in order to defend the herd in case of predator attack. When migrating, several harems will join together and form one large herd. If threatened or chased individuals reach speeds up to 55 mph (88 kph).

Habitat and Range
Zebra are found in grasslands, savannas, scrubs and open woodlands and throughout southeastern Africa, with the highest population densities in the Serengeti-Mara plains of Tanzania and Kenya.

Diet
Plains zebra are herbivores that primarily graze on grass. Since they are not ruminates they can consume the nutritionally poor and coarse grasses that ruminants must eat. Zebras eat by grasping the grass blades with their lips and clipping it with their upper lip and lower incisors. This stimulates the growth of other grasses that ruminants such as wildebeest and gazelles rely on.

Lifespan
In the wild zebra live an average of 9 years, while in captivity can survive up to 40 years. Young are particularly vulnerable to predation with around 50% of juveniles perishing in the first year of life.

Predators
Zebra are the second most preyed upon large animal in Africa, after the wildebeest. Lions, spotted hyenas, painted dogs, cheetahs, leopards and crocodiles will all hunt these animals. Females protect their young if attacked with powerful kicks, pushes, and by biting at the predator.

Reproduction
Sexual maturity: Male: 16-22 months, Female: 16-22 months
Mating Season: Year-round
Birth Season:     Year-round, peaking during the rainy season
Gestation:           12-13 months
No. of Young:      1

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Zebra, Plains