One of Africa’s most beautiful animals is the zebra because of it’s beautiful coat. Zebras, who are related to horses and donkeys, are generally thought to have white coats with black stripes when, actually, they have black skin with white coats. A zebras stripes are to them as fingerprints are to us. Each zebra has it’s own pattern. There are several theories as to why zebras have stripes. When in a group, it is believed that it is harder for predators to know how many there are. They may also appear unattractive to disease bearing insects or act as a natural sunscreen. Zebras may also be able to recognize one another by the particular pattern of their stripes.
There are two species of zebras. Plains zebras live in family groups called “harems” and are led by a stallion. Grevys zebras don’t have herds. The stallions establish territories and mares wander into them to breed. When foals are old enough the mothers take them and leave.
Zebras communicate with each other with facial expressions. Wide open eyes, bared teeth and flattened ears mean trouble. They bark, bray, snort and huff. Grooming each other strengthens their bonds.
A high pitched snort alerts the herd that danger is near. The stallion will stay until the others run away in a zig-zag fashion. He will stay and fight, if forced to, but usually will give a good hard kick and run away. If a zebra is injured the others will form a circle around him/her to keep predators away.
Females carry their babies for 12-14 months. The foals will continue to nurse for one year. Zebras mature at 3-6 years and have a life span of around 25 years.
Because of a zebra’s beauty they are also prey to the biggest predator of all. Trophy hunters. Zebra’s are hunted for their meat and for their magnificent coats. Due to over-hunting the zebra population is dwindling. It only takes one shot to cut short the life of an animal who prefers to run than to fight.
Trophy hunting needs to end now. A zebra’s striped coat looks much better running across the plain than it does lying on someone’s living room floor.