Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Zebra Crossing

Zebra's are native to central and southern Africa.

I've known for quite a while that there are 3 species of zebra, but until I did a bit of research for today's entry, I always thought that 3 species are: 1) Burchell's 2) Cape Mountain & 3) Hartmann's zebra. Well, now I know that the Burchell's zebra is one of 5 Plains zebra (the other: Grant's, Chapman's, Selous' & Quagga) and that the Cape Mountain & Hartmann's zebra are 2 (related) subspecies of the Mountain zebra.

The 3rd and to me (so far) "unknown" species is the Grevy's zebra, said to be the largest type with an erect mane and a narrow (mule-like) head. It is found in Ethiopia, Somalia & Kenya (Note to self: time to visit at least one of these countries!?).

All zebra have vividly black and white VERTICAL stripes (mainly on forequarters) after which THE zebra crossing is named!

I chose photos for today's entry (according to the 3 species of zebra I thought until today were THE 3) to "demonstrate" the difference between the species. I snapped this photo of a Burchell's zebra mare and foal (above) at Etosha, Namibia, where this zebra species have a whiter/lighter look about them.

Distinctive on the Burchell's zebra are the "shadow" stripes (between the black ones) mainly on the hindquarters.

Another example of a Burchell's zebra, snapped at the Seaview Game Park just outside Port Elizabeth. There's a notable difference between the zebras on the first 2 photos, yet if I'm not wrong (??) they belong to the same subspecies (= Burchell's zebra) of the Plains zebra species.

Burchell's zebra are gregarious by nature and often associate with other animals, especially wildebeest. Note the short ears of the Burchell's zebra species!

The Cape Mountain zebra (left) is known to be more cautious and more aggressive than the larger Burchell's zebra. I snapped this "specimen" at the Mountain Zebra National Park (near Craddock) where this highly endangered species has a "home" to ensure its survival.

The Mountain zebra is 1 of the world's rarest large mammals.

By way of distinguishing between the 3 species of zebra featuring on my photos today - note that the black stripes on the Cape Mountain zebra (right and above) are much broader on the rump than on the neck and back. The belly is white except for a single black central stripe running from the chest along the belly. Another characteristic of this species is the orange-coloured muzzle.

Did you know that some old male mountain zebra have the "distressing" habit of gelding young males?

The only Hartmann zebra I've "met" so far are kept on the grounds of the Zambezi Sun hotel-complex (Zambia). Yet that doesn't represent their natural habitat - in nature they tend to graze on tufted grass mostly found under arid conditions, e.g. in parts of the Namib desert.

By way of distinction from the other 2 species - it appears that "more" HORIZONTAL stripes feature on the Hartmann's zebra hindquarters. The Hartmann's zebra also looks more "white" than the Cape Mountain zebra.

The Hartmann zebra is slightly larger than the Cape Mountain zebra but like the latter, the leg stripes "wrap around" the entire leg. Note the stripe covering the spine and top portion of the tail - it is said to have a "zipper-like" appearance!?

On a similar note: once, a cabinet minister is supposed to have called zebras (in general) "donkeys in football jerseys". We, as tourist guides, often say teasingly: "donkey in pyjamas".

Burchell's zebra at a water-whole in Etosha - from the front........

- from the back..........

- and the same ones from the back after something scared them.

Doesn't it look as if these 2 zebra males (right) are smooching? Well, they aren't - they are actually fighting/biting each other (as I've written before on a previous blog entry, together with another photo of this fight).

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