Cape Mountain Zebra (Equus zebra zebra)
The Cape Mountain Zebra is the smallest of the zebra species, and has a mass of 230-260 kg and a shoulder height from 1.16 m to 1.28 m. Since the stripes on the body are narrower than those on the Burchell’s zebra, there are more. The horizontal stripes on the legs extend right down to the hooves. Hind quarters are covered with broad black stripes, and a gridiron pattern of narrow, transverse dark markings appear on the rump. The bellies are white and devoid of any stripes. They have long ears (220 mm) and distinctive dewlaps.
They congregate in breeding herds consisting of one to five mares and their foals, under the leadership of a single stallion. Excess stallions congregate in bachelor groups.
Where they are found
Formerly widely distributed in the mountain ranges of the Eastern and Western Cape. Due to hunting pressure this species was almost extinct in the mid-1930’s. It was saved by the 1937 proclamation of the Mountain Zebra National Park, in the Cradock district of the Eastern Cape Province. Today only three naturally occurring populations still exist, namely in the Kamanassie mountains, Gamka mountains and the Mountain Zebra National Park.
A new population at the De Hoop Nature Reserve is comprised of individuals translocated from the Mountain Zebra National Park, the Kamanassie mountains, and the now extinct populations of the Kouga and Outeniqua mountains. Other smaller populations have been established in the Eastern Cape and the Small Karoo on smaller game reserves, by translocations from the Mountain Zebra National Park.
Once referred to in the South African Parliament as ‘donkeys in football’ jerseys the Cape Mountain Zebra fortunately survived a vote to have a reserve established specifically for their protection. The numbers had dropped to below fifty and a discussion by the South African government in the 1930’s fortunately led to a reserve been established, despite some fierce opposition.