The African striped version of the horse is Africa’s most adaptable, successful, and common grazer.
Plains Zebras are water-dependent and found in both tropical and temperate climates. They utilize a broad range of savanna habitats, from treeless short-grassland to tall grassland and open woodland. Seasonal vegetation changes determine their home range. This highly social zebra species lives in family groups(called harems) of stallions with mares and their juvenile offspring.
Once found widespread across all African countries, now their population is found to be declining in 60% of the range states. Out of six subspecies, one is already extinct because of overhunting in the late 19th century. Overhunting and loss of habitat are primary threats to plains zebras.
Did you know?
- Plains Zebra are listed as Near Threatened, with around only 250,000 mature individuals. There has been a 25% decline since 1992.
- Today, in many countries, they are restricted to only protected areas, with almost no individuals outside PAs.
- Subspecies have overlapping ranges, and they do not interbreed.
- Habitat fragmentation by fences, roads, and other development projects squeezed zebra populations into small pockets of land, preventing migration between herds.
- Migration is necessary to add new genes (genetic diversity) responsible for the long-term survival of a healthy population of species.
- Near Uganda’s Lake Mburo (where migration is restricted by fragmentation), an unusually high number (around 5%) of plains zebras are found abnormally striped due to genetic mutations.
- East African plains zebras are hunted for their skins, as they do not have the shadow stripe present in southern African subspecies.
- Ecologically, they are pioneers of the grazer community, i.e., they make habitats suitable for other grazers.
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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