Things you may not know about Zebras

Things you may not know about Zebras

Weight: 250kg -300kg

Lifespan: Around 25 years

Gestation: +- 1-year giving birth to a single foal

Diet: A herbivore feeding on Mostly grass, occasionally leaves and twigs

Zebra Species 

There are three species of Zebra, the Plains zebra (Equus quagga), Mountain zebra (Equus zebra), and Grévy’s zebra (Equus grevyi). The Grevy’s zebra is the rarest of the three and is found only in Kenya and Ethiopia. While the Plains and Moutain Zebras are found across Southern Africa. In the Pilanesberg National Park, we have the Plains zebra.  

A Zebras Stripes 

Each zebra has a unique stripe pattern (no two are the same) just like human fingerprints. The stripe pattern can therefore be used to identify individuals.

In the Pilanesberg National Park, we have the Plains Zebra (also known as a Burchell’s Zebra) which can be identified by the light-colored stripe known as the shadow stripe between the black and white stripes, other types of zebra do not have a shadow stripe.

We often get asked if Zebras are black with white stripes or white with black stripes. At the end of the day, the underlying skin of a zebra under its coat is actually black.

The function of zebras stripes has been discussed among biologists since at least the 19th century and research is constantly being done. One of the more recent Hypotheses that makes a lot of sense is that the stripes help to detour biting flies. Horseflies, in particular, spread diseases such as African horse sicknessequine influenzaequine infectious anemia, and trypanosomiasis all of which could be deadly. In 1930 biologist R. Harris did research that found that flies were less likely to land on black-and-white striped surfaces than uniformly colored ones. A more recent study in 2014 found a correlation between the amount of striping and the presence of horse and tsetse flies.

Social structure 

Zebras live in family groups of one stallion, his harem of females, and their young. A group of Zebras can be called a herd but is more commonly known as a dazzle.

Males that don’t have a harem of their own can be found in bachelor groups or out on their own.  Different herds will often come together during activities such as grazing and drinking water but will split up again. 

Male Zebras can have serious fights when they will kick and bite each other. Sometimes causing serious injury to areas such as the neck, hind legs, and ears. They will even sometimes lose their tails during a fight when their opponent bites, so when you see a zebra missing its tail chances are it is a male.  

A foal is born after more or less a 12 month gestation period. When a female is going to give birth she will separate herself from the herd, once the foal is born this gives them a chance to bond and learn each other’s scent and stripe pattern.

The foal will be able to get up and run within an hour of being born which is very important so that it can run from danger.

A foal is born with lighter stripes (more brown than black) which then go darker over time. 

Predators 

Zebras are preyed upon by leopards, cheetah, hyenas, and lions. Zebra can run at around 65 km an hour making them faster than most predators, they also have a very nasty kick which they often use to defend themselves.

At night members of the herd will take turns keeping watch for any danger. If they spot something they will make a loud snorting sound which warns all the other members of the herd that there is danger. This snorting sound also lets the predator know that they have lost their element of surprise as they have been spotted. 

Did you know?

Did you know?

A male lion’s mane is not only for attracting females, but it also helps to protect their neck and head from injury during a fight. 

Lionesses are the primary hunters of the pride but the males do assist especially when hunting large prey such as Buffalo and Giraffe. After a successful hunt, the males will generally eat first. 

The males protect both the pride and the pride’s territory, often doing patrols and marking territory.  They do what they can to protect the pride from competing prides and other predators. 

The best way to recognize a Waterbuck is by the white ring on the rump. They are the only antelope to have this marking. It is a “follow me” sign as it is highlighted making it easier for them to follow each other as they flee from danger. 

Waterbuck are very water-dependent hence the name “Waterbuck”. They are found close to a water source and will drink often during the day.

Elephants are very social animals with a matriarchal system. This means that females live in herds where the oldest female is the one to lead the herd and make all the decisions. If something happens to her then the next oldest female will take over this role. 

Older males will meet up with a herd to breed and then leave again, they don’t spend long periods of time with the females anymore. You will find them either alone or in small bachelor groups. 

Rhino Notching in celebration of World Environmental Day.

Rhino Notching in celebration of World Environmental Day.

To celebrate this year we teamed up with Sun City, Conservation Kids, WRSA and the Pilanesberg Wildlife trust to create a memorable experience for some learners.
On Friday the 3 June 10 of the top grade 10 learners from Sedibelo Secondary School in Moruleng were brought to Pilanesberg National Park to take part in a Rhino Notching experience.
It was sad to hear that most of these learners that are all from the local community have never even been into the Pilanesberg before, making this experience even more special for them. It was so rewarding to see the smiles on their faces and share their excitement. Thank you to everyone that helped make this possible

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