Burchells Zebra

© Roger de la Harpe


Burchell's Zebra [Equus burchelli]


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.


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.


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.


The Burchell's 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.

©Roger de la Harpe


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

Where Burchells Zebra Are Found

Burchells Zebra is unmistakably a member of the horse family. This species is the largest of the two distinct species inhabiting South Africa's wildlife domain. The ranges of the Burchell's Zebra and the Cape Mountain Zebra are mutually exclusive. The Cape mountain Zebra is confined to the Cape mountainous regions, whereas that of the Burchell's Zebra coincides with woodland and grassy plains. 

Field Notes

The Burchell's 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 Burchell's Zebra has a distinctive shadow brown stripe in the white stripe, a characteristic which diminishes the further north they occur.

Kruger National Park - South African Safari