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Guide to the mammal species of Southern Africa

Burchell's Zebra - Equus burchelli
Travel Writer: EcoTravel Africa  

Herds of Burchell's Zebra galloping across the plains, with their magnificent shining coats and rounded bodies rocking in the sun, are one of the truly magnificent spectacles of the southern African subcontinent.

Photographer: EcoTravel Africa 

Their characteristic striped coats make them easily recognizable: they are distinguishable from the two species of mountain zebra by the yellowish or greyish shadow stripes between the stripes on their rumps, the absence of a dewlap, and the stripes which continue under the belly, although no two individuals are exactly alike.

The function of their stripes has led to much speculation: it may provide a form of camouflage under certain light conditions, or may confuse a predator as to their direction of movement, particularly when close up. Burchell's Zebra are mainly grazers, but will occasionally browse and feed on herbs.

Timid and restless - they invariably bolt from a water hole after drinking - Burchell's zebra are also noisy and very excitable. Their piercing whinny kwa-ha! kwa-ha! is identical to that of the now-extinct quagga. Under attack from predators, males will compromise their own safety as they courageously take a protective rearguard position while the rest of the group flees. In very large herds stallions will also form a defensive line along the flanks.

The Burchell's Zebra habit of keeping close to herds of grazing wildebeest is probably not coincidental: this strategy increases its chances of survival, as most predators prefer eating wildebeest. You may also see zebras fraternising with other species of sociable antelope and ostrich.

Burchell's Zebra stallions and their mates are fiercely protective of their young: in average breeding herds (small family groups) of 3 -7 animals, the stallion and his mares will use bared teeth and flailing hooves to attack and maul threatening lions and hyaenas. Young or surplus stallions form bachelor herds. A single foal is born.

More facts about Burchell's Zebras

Best places to see the Burchell's Zebra in Southern Africa:
Kruger National Park (South Africa)
Pilanesberg National Park (South Africa)
Hluhluwe-Umfolozi National Park
Tembe Elephant Park
Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Mammals of Southern Africa    >> Printable List <<
Wildlife - Fauna & Flora of Southern Africa

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Learn more about the Burchell's Zebra - Equus burchelli with Wildlife Campus. Course content includes in-depth information about Burchell's Zebra habitat, spoor, droppings, ecology...

Wildlife Campus offers many courses including: Field Guide Courses (FGASA); Game Ranging; Wildlife Management; Photography; Astronomy...

Southern Africa has many top Game / Nature Reserves, and is home to many of the mammals of southern Africa. Numerous wildlife safari and tour companies operate guided tours to Southern Africa. Popular adventure travel activities in Southern Africa include: horse riding safaris, elephant back safaris, mountain biking, birding, wilderness walking trails, science safaris and volunteering especially for GAP year students.
Southern Africa Wildlife - Fauna & Flora
Amphibians Ecology
Birds Trees
Fishes Shrubs
Mammals Grasses
Reptiles : Snakes Herbaceous Plants
Invertebrates Fungi : Mushrooms
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