Zebras are best known for their distinctive black and white stripes and have unique patterns to each individual. The most common species found in Africa that belongs to the Equidae family which is related to the horse. The three species of zebras are the Plains Zebra, the Mountain Zebra and the Grevy’s Zebra.
The Plains zebras are the most common species that can be found in Africa. They are less numerous than before because of human activities such as hunting for its hide and meat. Unlike other ungulates, Plains zebra does not require short grass to graze on. It can eat wide variety of grass preferring young, fresh growth where available, and also browses on leaves and shoots from time to time. The Plains zebra are highly social and forms into groups. Bachelor males either live alone or form a group with other bachelors until they are ready to start their own harem.
Grevy’s Zebra are also known as the imperial Zebra, is the largest. They differ from other two species. Grévy's zebra feed mostly on grasses but they will also eat fruit, shrubs and bark. The Grévy's zebra was the first zebra to be discovered by the Europeans and was used by the ancient Romans in circuses. Later, it was largely forgotten about in the Western world until the seventeenth century. The stripes of Grevy’s zebra are narrow and closer together unlike other zebras. This makes them easier to make a good escape and hide from predators. Adult males spend their time mostly alone in territories.
Mountain zebras lived in dry, stony, mountainous and hilly habitats. Their diet consists of tufted grass, bark, leaves, buds, fruit and roots. They often dig for ground water. They are mostly found in South-western Angola, Namibia and South Africa. Like Plains zebras, mountain zebras do not aggregate into groups. They usually form small family consisting of stallion, several mares and offspring. Bachelor males live in separate groups and attempt to abduct young mares and are opposed by the stallion.
Zebras communicate with each other with high pitched carks and whinnying. Their ears signify their moods. When they are calm, tense or in friendly mood, their ears are usually erect. When it is frightened, its ears are pushed forward. When angry, the ears are pulled backward. When surveying an area for predators, zebras will stand in an alert posture; with ears erect, head held high, and staring. When tense they will also snort.
Zebras are hunted mainly for their skin. There are also attempts in domesticating of this species, however, these attempts failed because of their unpredictable nature and the tendency to panic under stress.