Think you know zebras? Did you know a group of zebras is called a dazzle?
Although familiar to many, they are often misunderstood. Zebras are widespread across vast areas of southern and eastern Africa and best known for their annual 1,800-mile migration, where millions of zebra, blue wildebeest and antelope travel between the Serengeti in Tanzania and Kenya’s Masai Mara in a constant search of food and water.
They may look like big softies but as well as being hardy enough to keep up with the migration, Zebras can be very aggressive and dangerous. They have been known to kick each other causing injury or death and even to attack and kill lions to defend themselves. Zebras are also very fast reaching speeds of up to 65kph if needed to escape a predator or catch up with the herd. Foals can even run with the herd within a few hours of birth!
There are three species of zebra: Grevy’s, mountain and plains. The Grevy’s zebra (or Imperial as it is also known) is the largest and rarest zebra and classed as endangered. Mountain zebra have subspecies including the Hartmann’s and Cape Zebra. The plains zebra is also split into subspecies which include Burchell’s, Grant’s, Chapmans, Selous’, Crawshay’s and the Maneless .
A zebra’s famous stripy coat may all look the same but is as unique to each animal as fingerprint and thought to disperse more than 70 per cent of incoming heat, preventing them from getting too hot. This is because air moves at different speeds over the light-absorbing black stripes and light-reflecting white stripes creating its own kind of air conditioning! In addition it makes great camouflage in long grass, especially as lions are colour blind.