Grévy’s zebra

The largest wild species of the horses family and the most threatened zebra species


Grévy’s zebra


The largest wild species of the horses family and the most threatened zebra species

Population 2,800
85 – 90% decline over 29 years

Grévy’s zebra stands out among its kind, not only for its rarity but also for its distinctive physical characteristics. With narrow and intricate stripes that cover its body, wider rounded ears, and a general mule-like appearance, this species of zebra is immediately recognizable. These unique stripes, much closer together than those of other zebra species, serve as a natural camouflage, blending seamlessly into the tall grasses and shadows of their habitat. The wider ears are not just a distinguishing feature; they provide the Grévy’s zebra with heightened hearing, crucial for detecting predators in the wild.

The habitat of the Grévy’s zebra once spanned the expansive landscapes of the Horn of Africa. However, by the year 2022, their range had drastically contracted, with the remaining populations persisting primarily in Ethiopia and Kenya. With an estimated population of only 2,500 to 3,000 individuals, Grévy’s zebra is considered the rarest species of zebra. This significant reduction in numbers places the Grévy’s zebra in a precarious position, underlining the urgent need for conservation efforts to ensure its survival.

Grévy’s zebras have adapted to thrive in arid and semi-arid regions, areas characterized by grass and shrubland that surround permanent water sources. Grévy’s zebras tend to lead more solitary lives or form loose herds, unlike their more sociable cousins. Interestingly, the strongest social bonds observed within this species occur between mothers and their foals, a testament to maternal instinct and the importance of early life bonding in the animal kingdom.

The challenges facing Grévy’s zebra are manifold. Over the last three decades, the species has experienced an alarming decline, with numbers plummeting by approximately 87%. This dramatic decrease can be attributed to critical range reduction and the intensifying competition over scarce resources, not only among the zebras but also with human populations and livestock.


Population est.
Official estimate
Extinct locally
Official estimate
Extinct locally

Did you know?

  • Grevy’s Zebra Trust (GZT) was established in 2007 to address the urgent need to conserve Grevy’s zebra in the community rangelands of Kenya and Ethiopia. We work hand in hand with local communities because we believe that they must be at the centre of designing and driving conservation efforts.
  • Drought has killed about 40+ Grevy’s by June 2022 -more than the number of deaths that otherwise risked/projected for over a year.
  • Out of the 3,000 remaining Grevys in the world, 2,500 (83%) are in Kenya.
  • They are extremely mobile and can move great distances (greater than 80 km – 50 miles)!
  • They can live without a sip of water for five days, but mothers with babies can tolerate only a day or two without water.
  • Their skin pattern of narrow black and white stripes made Grevys highly prized by trophy hunters until the 20th century; thankfully, trophy hunting is now outlawed.
  • They are still illegally poached for their body parts in medicinal use as well as for bushmeat.
  • Their foals are unusually precious; they can stand within 11 mins and run within 45 mins of birth but don’t drink water until 3 months old!

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No