East Africa's Serengeti Plain Is The Classic Place For Wildlife Tourism. Photo:Angela Sevin

Facts About Zebras

The zebra is the wild equine of sub-Saharan Africa—which means that it is closely related to the horse and the ass. Unlike horses and asses, however, zebras have proven difficult, if not impossible, to domesticate.

The three main zebra species are the plains zebra, the Grevy’s zebra, and the mountain zebra. The Grevy’s zebra is listed as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), while the mountain zebra is listed as Vulnerable. One subspecies of plains zebra, the quagga, went extinct early in the 20th Century.

In general, however, plains zebras are still relatively plentiful. In fact, on the plains of East Africa, migrations of mixed zebra and wildebeest herds have traditionally involved tens of thousands of animals moving all at once in search of better grazing conditions. The zebras’ striking coat pattern of alternating black and white stripes is thought to confuse predators such as lions when large numbers of zebras are moving together: the shifting blur of stripes makes it harder for the predator to pick an individual from the herd.

Habitat degradation and loss due to human activity, as well illegal hunting, are likely to continue affecting all zebra species in the future.

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