Burchells Zebra

Two zebra playing in the wild.
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Name

Burchellís Zebra [Equus burchelli]

Appearance

Body stripes are less numerous and broader than that of the Cape Mountain Zebra, whereas body stripes extend around the belly. Leg striping is less prominent. Measures 1.3 to 1.4 metres at the shoulder and weighs 300-320 Kg. They have rounded ears approximately 160-170 mm long. Front portion of mane forms a black tuft between the ears. Diet

Predominantly a grazer, feeding in areas with short grass. Zebra have a strong sensitive upper lip with which it gathers herbage by collecting the grass between the lip and the lower incisors before plucking the harvest.

Breeding

Non seasonal breeder, foals may be born in any month. However, under optimal conditions more foals are born during summer. After a gestation period of 360-390 days, a single foal is born, which weighs 30-35 Kg. Foals are weaned at the age of 11 months.

Behaviour

The Burchellís Zebra lives in small family units, which typically consist of one stallion and one mare with their foals. Non-breeding stallions occur in bachelor groups. Herd stallions are between four to 12 years old. Water holes in conjunction with favoured grazing areas attract family groups which collectively congregate in large numbers. They are often seen in close association with Wildebeest, other plains Antelope and Baboons.

Habitat

Short grassland areas within savanna woodland and grassland plains constitute the preferred habitat. Their dependence on water restricts the Burchellís Zebra to wander further than ten to 12 km from water. Densely vegetated areas are avoided.

Where they are found

Unmistakably a member of the horse family. This species is the largest of the two distinct species inhabiting South Africaís wild life domain. The ranges of the Burchellís Zebra and the Cape Mountain Zebra are mutually exclusive. The Cape mountain Zebra is confined to the Cape mountainous regions, whereas that of the Burchellís Zebra coincides with woodland and grassy plains.

Field Notes

The Burchellís Zebra is the closest relative to the extinct Quagga which roamed the southern plains of South Africa until the 19th century, so close in fact that scientists are using DNA from chosen individual to attempt to bring the Quagga back.

Each individual Zebra has unique markings and act in similar fashion as fingerprints in humans. It is said that newborn Zebra stay close to the mother to imprint her patterns. The southern Burchellís Zebra has a distinctive shadow brown stripe in the white stripe, a characteristic which diminishes the further north they occur.



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