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
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 sickness, equine influenza, equine 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.
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.
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.