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September picture: Grant’s zebra

September picture: Grant’s zebra

Zebras basically are well known animals, but many do not know a lot in detail about Africa’s wild horses. It is not too difficult though, there are three zebra species: Grevy’s zebras, Mountain zebras and plains zebras. Mountain zebras have two subspecies, while there are five living subspecies of plains zebras: Grant’s zebras, Burchell’s zebra, Chapman’s zebra, Crawshay’s zebra and Maneless zebra. In Kenya there are two different kinds of zebras with Grevy’s zebras and Grant’s zebras.

 

The calendar picture shows a young Grant’s zebra foal, which nicely allows to display differences to other zebra species and subspecies. First of all it is the mane that ends brownish and not as black as other zebras. Grant’s zebras stripes are pretty broad, which in this case can be seen on the neck but it will be more obvious when the animal is grown up. Plains zebras have so called shadow stripes between the black and white main pattern, which in case of the Grant’s zebras are just a few or are not existent at all. This foal has some on the upper hind leg. Also characteristic is that the stripes go down until the hoofs, while some species/subspecies nearly have white legs.

 

IUCN lists plains zebras as such as “near threatened” since five years. The general category is a bit surprising as the subspecies have huge difference in the number of animals. In total there are about 500.000 plains zebras but nearly 400.000 of them are Grant’s zebras, so this subspecies is not endangered at all. This is totally different particularly with the Chapman’s zebras, Crawshay’s zebras and Maneless zebras that all would require higher protection. However, a DNA research in 2018 suggested that plains zebras probably have no subspecies and are just one species with regional differences, e.g. that the stripes of northern zebras are wider and southern zebras show more shadow stripes.

 

When thinking of zebras in Africa many imagine a picture of hundreds or thousand animals. However they live in small families, which merge together into large formations. One herd always contains of one stallion with a few females and their offspring. Young stallions merge to bachelor groups until they are experienced enough to challenge an adult stallion to take ove his herd. If he succeeds he chases the offspring away or even kills them to have own offspring as soon as possible. It takes eleven months until the foals are born, another eleven months they are fed by their mothers. Sexual maturity is gained at the age of three for females and at the age of five in case of stallions.

Olaf Goldbecker