10 Cool things about the Burchell’s zebra

1.Famous Name

The Burchell’s zebra was named after British explorer, William John Burchell. He came to southern Africa in 1810 and began to explore the interior of the country. Other species where named after him, including the Burchell’s Coucal, a brown and tan bird of the cuckoo family

2.African Homeland

The Burchell’s zebra, a sub-species of the plains zebra, makes his home in the southern parts of Africa, including South Africa, Swaziland, southern Botswana and Namibia and to the north east, including Tanzania and Kenya. They are found in woodland areas and on the wide open grassland plains. Photo: Jeff Gynane

3.Country Cousins

The Burchell’s zebra weighs around 320kg and stands under 1.4m at the shoulder (about 14 hands). His mane forms a tuff of hair between his large, rounded ears. Stripes run vertically across his neck and flanks, but diagonally across his rump. Lighter chestnut or tan stripes are seen on his rump area. The Burchell’s zebra has fewer stripes on his body than his country cousin, the Cape mountain zebra.

4.Handsome Herbivores

Zebras are grazers and enjoy munching on short grass. They have a close relationship with the wildebeest. Both animals are targeted by predators, so they help each other stay safe. Wildebeest have good hearing and, coupled with the zebra’s keen eyesight, they warn each other if a predator is lurking nearby. Photo: Jo Hounsom

5.Life in the herd

The Burchell’s zebra lives in a family group called a herd. The group is made up of one stallion and his mares and their foals. Younger males who have not yet established herds of their own may be found in groups called ‘bachelor’ herds.

6.Sassy Stripes

Did you know that the stripes are actually camouflage for the zebra? We may be able to spot them right across the veld in their stripy ‘PJs’, but for the predators who prey on the zebra, those stripes can be confusing! Lions are not able to distinguish as many colours as us humans do, so patterns in the grass are more difficult to make out. When the zebra herd runs at full gallop, it can be near impossible for the lion to pick a prey victim in all those stripes! Markings are unique to each zebra – just like a human fingerprint or the patterns on a dog’s nose.

7.Colour Conundrim

Black with white stripes? Or white with black stripes? That’s an interesting question when it comes to zebras! If you look at the zebra’s belly and bottom, you’ll notice that they are white… so, we can say they have black (or brown) stripes on a white body. Image: Grobler du Preez

8.Zebra Creche

Foals can be born throughout the year but births are more common in the summer months. A single foal, weighing under 40kg, is born after a year-long gestation period. Within 20 minutes of birth, the foal is able to stand on his legs and he’ll need to be able to run within the hour! Although he needs his mother’s milk to survive, he will start nibbling on grass at just a few days old. He’ll stop drinking his mom’s milk at around 11 months. Photo: Cameron Watson

9.Barking & Braying

Zebras do not neigh like horses, but make a yipping or barking sound. They also whinny, snort and bray like a donkey. They use various sounds to communicate with their members of the herd. Zebras also use their ears to convey messages. A zebra with his ears facing forward is listening and he is tense. They strengthen family bonds by grooming each other.

10.Horse Family

The zebra is a member of equidae, the horse family. There are 10 members of the family, of which the donkey and onager (type of ass) are part. Zebras are odd-toed ungulates – they only have one toe on each foot. There are three species of zebra – the Grevy’s zebra, Burchell’s zebra and mountain zebra. The quagga is extinct. Photo: Grobler du Preez

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