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Plains Zebra

Plains Zebra

Plains Zebra Fact Sheet

  • Latin Name

    Equus burchellii
  • Class

  • Order

  • Range

    Throughout southeastern Africa, from Ethiopia to South African, with the highest population densities in the Serengeti in Kenya and Tanzania.
  • Status

    Plains zebras are not severely threatened. However, their populations have declined in recent decades, especially in southern Africa due to habitat loss and illegal hunting.
  • Habitat

    Open savannas, woodlands and scrub environments.
  • Niche

    Plains zebras primarily graze on grass, and occasionally browse on herbs, leaves and twigs.
  • Life History

    Plains zebras live in highly social groups. Harems of females are led by a stallion and alpha mare, but bachelor groups are also common in the wild. Most foals are born during the rainy season, which occurs from October to March in East Africa. Each mare gives birth to only one foal after a gestation period of a little over one year. Young reach independence after 1 to 3 years. males begin to fight for mates and establish a harem when they reach 4 years old. Mothers provide the primary care for their young, while the male is busy protecting and defending the harem. Foals weigh are well developed at birth and able to follow the mother back to the herd within a couple of hours.
  • Special Adaptations

    Each individual's stripe pattern is unique and acts as an identifying characteristic similar to fingerprints in human beings. Stripes also function as camouflage under dim light, and—when individuals group together in a herd—make it difficult for predators to single out individuals to attack.


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