All You Need to Know About the African Zebra
The zebra is known for its many stripes covering its body. Even though there are thousands of zebras roaming Africa, no two zebras are alike as each subspecies has its own unique pattern of stripes.
Although the Zebra similarly looks like a horse with striped pyjamas, it’s part of the Equidae family allowing them to evolve separately.
When the dry seasons approach, zebras travel great distances to find food and water.
20 to 30 Years
Up to 1.5 metres
Up to 400 kg
lions, cheetahs, hyenas
Zebras are famous for the stripes decorating most parts of their bodies. Interestingly, these stripes aren’t just there to look pretty, they have a purpose. The stripes are there for protection to make it difficult for predators to distinguish one zebra from another.
A zebra has large ears to enable them to easily hear if danger is heading their way. Its head consists of bristle-like hair giving it a mohawk-type hairstyle.
Although their legs are strong and muscular, they’re not made for speed. Zebras aren’t nearly as fast as horses but their stamina allows them to run at a constant speed for long distances.
Fun fact: A fun fact about a zebra’s running style is that these animals run in a zig-zag motion to confuse its pursuers.
Like most species, the zebra species is divided into three subspecies.
Grevy’s zebra (Equus grevyi)
- Weight: Ranges between 350 to 450 kg
- Size: Ranges between 125 to 150 cm
- Life Span: 12 to 13 years
The Grevy’s zebra is the rarest between the three species. These zebras are endangered due to hunting and habitat loss.
The Grevy zebra with its long legs and unique stripes is the largest of the wild equids. Their zebra stripes are as distinctive as fingerprints.
Newborns are brown with reddish-brown stripes and their coats only darken to black as they get older.
The Grevy zebra is closely related to the wild ass, also known as “Onager”. They’re taller, have larger ears and their stripes are narrower than plains zebras.
Mountain zebra (Equus zebra)
- Weight: Ranges between 230 to 260 kg
- Height: Ranges between 1.16 to 1.28 m
The mountain zebra is smaller than the Grevy zebra species and is also endangered. In 1930 this zebra species almost became extinct but luckily they were saved by the 1937 proclamation of the Mountain Zebra National park. There are three populations of the mountain zebra left, namely in the Gamka mountains, the Kamanassie mountains and the Mountain Zebra National Park.
These zebras also have narrower stripes which allow them to have more stripes than the other zebra species.
Plains zebra (Equus quagga)
- Weight: Up to 450 kg
- Height: Ranges between 1 to 1.5 m
The smallest of the zebra species, the plains zebra, also known as the common zebra, consists of a larger population than the mountain- and Grevy zebras.
These zebras can be found in the southern and eastern parts of Africa.
Zebras follow a herbivore diet and generally prefer to eat short, green grass. They’ll also munch on leaves or twigs and some even eat herbs when the grass is scarce.