Friday, January 25, 2013

Zebra manes & tails

To continue the debate of how to clearly differentiate between the different (sub-)species of zebra [SEE my previous blog entries on this "subject": 21/12/12 & 17/1/13] I'm today posting photos concentrating on the manes & tails of the various zebra species. Slowly I'm beginning to "make peace" with the fact that the variety amongst the Plains zebra is huge!!

Similarly I'm reverting to calling them Burchell's (instead of only Plains) zebra, even if the available info on the internet in this regard is rather confusing - but, afterall, the full (scientific) name for them is Equus burchelli.

A zebra's mane "stands up straight" (> horse's mane lies flat) wheras a zebra (also unlike a horse) has a "solid" tail. The long erect mane runs along the top of the neck - from the ears to above the shoulders - whilst the "neat" striping pattern on the neck extends into the mane.

Another "typical zebra-feature" is a narrow black stripe that runs along the back to the mid-line of the tail & ends in a black whisk, whilst the top of the tail is "flanked" by black bars (+/ black dots) - more clearly visible in the first 2 photos above.

Back to my "favourite group" of zebra drinking thistily - apart from thinking they might be Damara zebra [SEE my previous blog entry as well as 21/12/12 ] - I'm "diverting" from concentrating on the unusually white legs to other, more typical zebra-features: the muzzle, chin & nose are black. I'm also "re-using" a photo of this group because . . .

. . . I wish to concentrate on the zebra-"rear ends" (incidentally: this is also 1 of my favourite zebra-photos) & on what is said to be "zipper-like" in appearance: the stripe that covers the spine & top portion of the tail!!??

However: this zipper-like-effect is supposedly only associated with the Hartmann's (sub-species of the Mountain) zebra, but unfortunately I only have this "side-view"-photo of what I believe are Hartmann's zebra, because I photographed them in the (geological) region where they are said to occur in Namibia.

So instead I'm "using" a photo of a Cape Mountain zebra to "demonstrate" what the zipper-like appearance might look like, although . . .

. . . I used to associate this zipper-like-look with what until recently I thought WERE Hartmann zebra but was "corrected" [SEE: previous blog-entry]. So instead I now think they are the rather "unique" Grant's zebra!?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Zebra Controversy

Much confusion reigned on 21/12/12 [SEE my blog-entry on that date] - in my case it was related to the available (or in this case non-available/confusing) information I came across during my "surfing" on the internet about the different species of zebra- instead of being confused/afraid that the world was possibly coming to an end on that day :) Today, however, I want to concentrate on how to possibly identify zebras according to their stripes (only) & the regions, where I found/photographed them. This group of (3) zebra are at home in the Addo Park in the Eastern Cape.

I photographed this (heavily pregnant) zebra mare in the Pilansberg Reserve (N-W Province). Since today I only want to concentrate on the Plains zebra (generally known as the Burchell's zebra here in SA), the distinctively wide & widely spaced stripes of this zebra subspecies are vertical on the forepart of the body, in contrast to being horizontal on the hindquarters & legs.

The horizontal stripes on the lower legs are also usually "giving way to white", whereas a very distinctive feature of the Plains zebra is the so-called (brownish/greyish) shadow-stripes especially on the rump - all clearly "demonstrated" by this zebra, which crossed a road in the Kruger National Park - hence zebra-stripes :)

When looking at this zebra mare & its foal, photographed in the Hluhluwe Game Reserve (KwaZulu-Natal), I wonder: are we looking at 1 of several subtypes/variations, as some websites on the matter "state", yet don't appear to agree about how many species truly exist/are extant OR extinct by now!!

Is this possibly a "true" Burchell's zebra (photographed in a private game reserve in the Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape region), which the information on some websites describe as "the lightest coloured" of all zebras with completely white legs? In contrast & if in fact the Burchell's is only a subtype of the Plains zebra, which some "claim" is (like the Quagga) by now extinct, shouldn't we stop generally referring to the Plains as the Burchell's zebra?

Photographed in the Etosha National Park in Namibia, this Plains/Burchell's zebra has similar whitish legs as the zebra above, but in contrast has more "pronounced" shadow-stripes. Even if it's a fact that a zebra's stripe pattern is as distinctive from one another as our fingerprints as humans are, don't the great variations (sometimes even WITHIN a specific geographical region) indicate that also, various "kinds" of the Plains zebra exist?

Since this zebra is part of a small group in Zambia bear the Victoria Falls, where it's (incorrectly) "described" as a Hartman zebra (= a Mountain, NOT Plains, zebra subspecies) it was pointed out to me by an expert that instead it's a Plains zebra subspecies. So as I did in my blog-entry on the "confusing" date - because this group of zebra is far more "heavily" striped than is usually the case - I again wonder: is this possibly a Grant's zebra, which is indeed a subspecies of the Plains zebra & which is said NOT to have shadow-stripes??

In a similar vein: are these Damara zebra - another Plains zebra subtype?? Damara zebra occur in Namibia, as these do in the Etosha Park, & like the supposedly extinct Burchell's zebra are said to have NO stripes on the legs - apart from that the shadow-stripes "fade into the brownish colour of the hind-quarters"!?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Beginning

How about comparing the backside of an animal with the Old (Past) Year & a frontal view with the New Year - i.e. facing the future? Then these 2 elephants, appearing to embrace, could symbolise an endearing "connection" between the past & a new beginning. But it seems to be an illusion, because . . .

. . . in fact the 2 elephant bulls are fighting; or "testing" their strength - which also could be representative of "making ones mark".

According to my premise today, looking at the backside of this BLUE Wildebeest represents "seeing out" the Old Year . . .

. . . wheras this BLACK Wildebeest, squarely facing ahead, symbolises a challenging attitude & readiness to accept, whatever "comes along" - head-on!

Similarly these cute little meerkats (suricates) are "squarely facing" what lies ahead . . .

. . . but these 2 meerkats are looking "over the shoulder" . . .

. . . whilst others from the same family look "straight ahead" - & into the future?

In conclusion (closely related to the meerkaats) a family of Striped mongoose "turning their back" on the Old & walking towards a New Beginning :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Old OUT - New IN

Today I'm comparing the "old" (past) year with a sunset . . .

. . . of which I have quite a collection of photographs - like this colourful sky over Cape Town after sunset . . .

. . . which changed to a quite scary dark red colour soon after . . .

. . . which again reminds my of a psychedelic-like-looking sun I felt privileged to "witness" from a boat on the Chobe River (Botswana) . . .

. . . as well as the baloon-like setting sun when "drifting" once on the Zambezi River (just "above" the Victoria Falls) . . .

. . . which changed into one of the most amazing if surreal views I've ever experienced . . .

. . . but that happened in the past - whereas a lovely sunrise over the Indian Ocean in Durban in my eyes today symbolises the new year, which has just started :)