ZEBRA FACT FILE

by Wildlife South Africa


PLAINS ZEBRA also known as BURCHELL'S ZEBRA
Latin Name: E. quagga
Subspecies: Equus quagga burchellii
Afrikaans: Bont Sebra of Vlaktekwagga
 
Distribution:
 
Zebra occur throughout South Africa. Although in the past they naturally occurred especially in the central, northern and eastern parts of South Africa, they are widely distributed throughout South Africa through introduction on game farms and private reserves. 
 
Habitat:
 
Zebra prefer open grassy plains and park-like savanna and prefer but do not require grazing with shortish grass. They occur in areas with available water nearby as they are very dependent on water.
 

 
Behaviour and Habits:
 
Zebras are highly sociable animals. They live in small family groups (small herds) of about 3 to 10 zebras consisting of a few mares, young zebras and an adult stallion. Larger herds are sometimes seen but it usually happens when different herds come together temporarily. Sometimes bachelor herds are formed by a few stallions only. Some adult stallions may also stay alone at certain times. Zebras are highly gregarious and mix with Blue wildebeest, impala, giraffe and other herbivores. They defend themselves by biting and kicking. Stallions often inflict serious injuries on each other when fighting for dominance and a chance to breed. No zebra is striped like another. Each zebra’s stripe pattern is unique – all patterns differ from each other. Zebras are diurnal.
 
Difference between male and female:
 
Males are usually slightly heavier than females and are stockier and more robustly built. 
 
Mass:
 
Male: 270 – 340 kg.
Female: 270 – 325 kg. 
There is documentation of a Zebra mare found in the Kruger National Park in South Africa that weighed 429.4 kg. It was the heaviest Zebra recorded in the Kruger.
 
Height:
 
1.2 m to 1.46 m
 
Lifespan:
 
About 20 years
 
Breeding / Gestation:
 
Gestation period is about 375 days or just more than 12 months / just more than a year - single foal with mass of 30 to 35 kg. Generally foals are born in summer months.
 
Diet:
 
Zebras are essentially grazers although they do occasionally browse also on wild herbs.
 
Enemies:
 
Lion, Leopard, Spotted Hyena, Wild dogs, Nile Crocodile, Brown Hyena, Cheetah, Black backed Jackal, Side striped jackal, Human race.
 
Interesting facts:
 
The Burchell’s Zebra is a southern subspecies of the Plains Zebra. Their size is large. The colour is ochre or off-white, but never pure white. From afar it looks like they are striped black and white, but they do have shadow stripes (more light brown). The shadow stripes (between the black stripes) are usually well marked. The stripes on the legs are often absent or poor, and in some populations sometimes never completely to the hooves. The mane is well developed. 
 
Zebras are related to Rhinoceroses. In days gone by Zebras were interbred with donkeys and were used to pull ox wagons and mules coaches of the Zeederberg Transport and Coachline, in Zimbabwe. It is also recorded that zebras were used for riding in Kenia although this was just as an experimental or trial exercise.