Mountain zebra

The zebra with dewlap climing over steep, rugged terrains, as high as 2 km (1.2 miles)

Yathin S Krishnappa

They are found exclusively on mountain ridges, plateaus, and slopes in mountainous South African areas.

The stripes extend to the hooves, ears long, feet narrow with pointed hooves.
The gridiron pattern and the reversal of the direction of hairs along the spine are unique characteristics of the mountain zebra.

They are the oldest of all zebras, evolved during the early Pleistocene.
The phylogenetic studies show they may share common ancestry with Grevy’s zebra.

There are two subspecies: the larger, heavier horse-like built Hartmann’s mountain zebra and the smaller slender wild-ass-like Cape mountain zebra.

Anthropogenic fragmentation of habitat and isolation of populations increase the risk of hybridization and inbreeding depression.


Population est.
Official estimate
Official estimate
South Africa
Introduced: Northern Cape Province
South Africa
Western Cape, Eastern Cape

Did you know?

  • They are similar to plains zebras in appearance but are believed to be bad-tempered.
  • They are very fond of dust baths!
  • Typical harsh snorts and barking “Qa-ha-ha” as alarm signals are commonly used to alert about predators.
  • Their hooves are very hard and pointed, fitted to climb the rocky terrain.
  • Bright orange shading surrounding the snout is present in the mountain zebra.
  • Hartmann’s mountain zebra prefers the ecotone zones between mountain slopes and dry sandy flats found at the foot of mountain slopes, while Cape mountain zebra inhabit the higher slopes and kloofs.
  • Mountain zebra need abundant drinking water; they avoid muddy water. If the water becomes scarce, they were observed to dig up to 1.2m (4 ft) deep holes.
  • Today, the Cape mountain zebra is restricted to fenced protected areas and game farms, so its distribution is more fragmented than in historical times.
  • Potential threats include Equine sarcoidosis and stochastic events such as droughts.
  • Hybridisation between Hartmann’s mountain zebra and Cape Mountain zebra takes place in the Western and Eastern Cape.
  • However, this is more of a threat to the Cape mountain zebra, as the core populations of Hartmann’s mountain zebra remain unaffected by potential hybridization.
  • They evolved around 1-2 mya, along with the African wild ass.

Anything we've missed?

Help us improve this page by suggesting edits. Glory never dies!

Suggest an edit

Get to know me

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