Lifestyle and Lifespan
Black base color with contrasting white stripes continuing all the way down to its hooves, with a short, upright mane.
Capable of running 40mph!- Zebras use hooves and teeth in defense!- There is much discussion about the adaptive value of stripes, but none of the theories has consensus.
From northern Zimbabwe to the Sudan in East Africa. Inhabits grasslands, especially those with scattered trees.
Mostly herbivorous. Primarily graze on grass. Also occasionally browse on herbs, leaves and twigs.
Zebras play an important role in the stability and dynamics of grazing communities where they live. They are the first to move in during grass succession, chomping down on old growth and stems which keeps vegetation young and growing. This opens up grazing opportunities for wildebeests, gazelles and topis which are more picky about the vegetation they consume.Zebra herds leave the grazing area during the dry season and in doing so trample the land and stimulate grass growth. This, along with their selection of grass stems, increases the quantity and quality of vegetation.
Grant's zebras live in stable family groups of up to 17 animals headed by a single stallion. (Sometimes two stallions are part of the group, but one will be dominant.) Mares stay with the group; offspring leave. Females establish a dominance hierarchy. During travel, group is led by the dominant female and her foal, followed by other females in their order of dominance. Members recognize each other by sight primarily, but also by voice and smell. Families maintain close bonds even during extended migrations with thousands of other zebra and wildebeest. The stallion is the rear guard when the family flees from a predator. Zebras are gregarious under conditions of abundant food or around water holes. Males have displays, including a sort of barking whinny, which seem to minimize aggression at such times.
Zebras are polygynous; one male stallion leads and mates with a harem of females. Male-male competition is not significant, once males obtain a female, there seems to be a 'gentleman's agreement' between the stallion that this female has been taken and cannot be lured away.
Under ideal conditions, a female may produce a foal every year.
Grant's zebras are listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. They can eat coarse grass and are resistant to diseases that affect cattle, so as long as the African plains exist, so will these zebra. Two rarer species are in danger, however- the Grevy's Zebra (endangered) and the Mountain Zebra (threatened).
The zebra is the only grazer to have both upper and lower incisors; it can thus snip the grass blade (rather than yanking it out), exposing the tender under grasses for others. The antelope of the plains rely on the zebra to open up the grasslands for them, removing the tough outer layers to expose nutritious parts.
Kingdon, Jonathan 1979. East African Mammals, Vol III, Part B.Academic Press, San Francisco.
MacDonald, David 1984. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Facts on File.
Moss, Cynthia 1982. Portraits in the Wild. University of Chicago Press.
Nowak, Ronald. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World, 5th Ed, Vol II, Johns Hopkins University Press.
Colvin, L. and C. Nihranz 2009. "Equus burchellii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed September 09, 2016 at http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Equus_burchellii/