Grévy's Zebra (Equus Grevyi), Plains Zebra (Equus Quagga), Mountain Zebra (Equus Zebra)
Zebras are African equines with distinctive black-and-white striped coats. There are three living species: the Grévy's zebra (Equus grevyi), plains zebra (E. quagga), and the mountain zebra (E. zebra).
Zebras share the genus Equus with horses and asses, the three groups being the only living members of the family Equidae. Zebra stripes come in different patterns, unique to each individual. Zebras inhabit eastern and southern Africa and can be found in a variety of habitats such as savannahs, grasslands, woodlands, shrublands, and mountainous areas.
Zebras are primarily grazers and can subsist on lower-quality vegetation. They are preyed on mainly by lions and typically flee when threatened but also bite and kick. Zebras communicate with various vocalisations, body postures and facial expressions. Social grooming strengthens social bonds in plains and mountain zebras.
Zebras' dazzling stripes make them among the most recognisable mammals. They have been featured in art and stories in Africa and beyond. Historically, they have been highly sought after by exotic animal collectors, but unlike horses and donkeys, zebras have never been truly domesticated.
Why They Matter
Zebras play an important role in their native ecosystem in three ways. First, they maintain vegetation, eating old plants and stems as they migrate. Second, zebras are an important source of food for many of Africa’s carnivores, with as many as 30% killed by lions and hyenas. Lastly, zebras serve as insect population controls by consuming the same plant matter that insects do. Without Zebras, the insect populations would increase significantly, causing problems of its own.
The IUCN Red List of mammals lists the Grévy's zebra as endangered, the mountain zebra as vulnerable and the plains zebra as near-threatened. Grévy's zebra populations are estimated at less than 2,000 mature individuals, but they are stable. Mountain zebras number near 35,000 individuals and their population appears to be increasing. Plains zebra are estimated to number 150,000–250,000 with a decreasing population trend.
Human intervention has fragmented zebra ranges and populations. Zebras are threatened by hunting for their hide and meat, and habitat change from farming. They also compete with livestock for food and water and fencing blocks their migration routes