Zebra of plains: characteristics and habitat
The plains zebra is native to the African plains. It belongs to the genus Equus , within which are both zebras and horses.
Zebras belong to the species Equus quagga and horses to the species Equus caballus . Currently, there are three different species of zebras: Equus quagga is the most common and widespread variety.
Characteristics of the plains zebra
The Zebras are herbivorous mammals whose diet focuses on the consumption of vegetables, such as grass, sprouts, shrubs, leaves, bark and fruit. This type of food allows them to purge the stomach. In relation to its physiology, it has a wide body with short legs, medium size and weighing between 350 and 380 kilos.
The uniqueness of the zebra resides essentially in the fringes black and white that cover your body. All zebra subspecies have these vertical stripes on the front of the body. As you move towards the back of the body, they become horizontal. The populations of the north have narrower and more defined fringes. However, southern populations have fewer strips on their back.
Zebras are social animals that live in small groups and protect each other. If a individual of the herd is attacked, the family comes to his aid. They form a circle around the attacked individual and try to scare away the predators.
Habitat of the plains zebra
Plains zebras live on the African continent, in different types of habitats : African savanna, scrubland and meadows. They are located from sea level to 4,300 meters - for example, on Mount Kenya - in Kenya. However, they are not found in rain forests, deserts or dune forests.
Zebras live in groups, in which there is a stallion, several females and their offspring. Although each group lives in specific areas, they meet at certain times of the year. When they come together, they move together like herds.
Their home varies throughout the seasons, as they depend on seasonal changes in vegetation. The size of the The area in which they live varies according to the location in which they are located. And they are different from the areas of those groups that live in national parks.
In some areas, flocks are separated by natural barriers or marginal habitats: they form subpopulations that cover different areas. The area they cover is greater in the dry season, due to the lower availability of resources in the middle.
In the ecology of the zebras, the migratory process stands out. It has been observed that zebras migrate throughout the year, coinciding with the different seasons . It starts in the rainy season and the daily displacement depends on the precipitation rate, among other factors.
The goal of this migration is the search for resources. One of the most striking migrations occurs in the Serengeti. However, not all herds of zebras migrate. Some herds or groups of zebras react differently to changes in climatic conditions.
In addition, zebras can modify their migration patterns to suit possible adverse situations or the need to find new resources .The skin of zebras is one of the main attractions of hunters.
There is an important trade in African animal skins, which leads inexorably to the disappearance of the species. A clear example is the subspecies cuagga, which disappeared in the 19th century due to human action. It was the first subspecies of zebra described and was characterized because the back of its body lacked fringes; it was a brown hue.
Unfortunately, populations are now declining and the position of zebras on the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is almost threatened ( near threatened ).