One African Zebra Chooses the Wrong Place to Cross The River

The Maasai Mara National Reserve is located in southwest Kenya. Each year African zebras, blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus), Thomson’s gazelle (Eudorcas thomsonii) and other species of antelope participate in what is known as the Great Migration, one of the world’s most spectacular wildlife events. Each year millions of these creatures migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania across the Mara river to the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. During the river crossing, a number of African zebras, wildebeests and other antelopes will die by drowning or from attacks by predators, such as the giant Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) which lives in the river or the African lion (Panthera leo) which roams the river banks.

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Zebra Herd in Tanzania National Park – Ruaha Video

Ruaha National Park – Tanzania – Small Zebra Herd

Ruaha National Park – Tanzania

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Feeding African Zebras

African Zebras 20

Zebras are herbivores. They are grazers living in herds. They are water-dependent and can adapt to a variety of grasses. Their diet ranges from young shoots to full-grown grass. Zebras aren’t ruminants.

The diet of zebras mainly consists of grass. Grass, shrubs, twigs, bark and leaves are all a part of the Zebras’ diet; however, grass is the primary part. Their digestive system and metabolism are such that they can thrive on a low-nutrition diet. They can digest coarse grasses which other herbivores cannot. This way, zebras help other wild grazers by consuming coarse grass and leaving softer grass for them. They grip the grass with their lips and bite it off with their front teeth. They use their molars to grind the food. Typically, zebras seek green pastures. During the dry months of the year, they thrive on dry grass. Zebras tend to remain in the proximity of water holes. They inhabit grasslands, the savannas, as also the coastal, hilly or mountainous regions. Zebras have a large appetite. They spend almost 60% of the time of their day eating. They eat tall grasses growing in wet soils. When food is scarce, about 80% of their time is spent eating. In the wild, zebras feed on even grass stems and sheath. In the zoos, they are fed hay, oats and alfalfa.

Unlike other grazing animals like cows, zebras do not ruminate. This is why they extract less nutrition from the food they eat. From this arises their need to graze all day. Search for food is the prime reason for their migration. Generally, wildebeests and zebras migrate together. They are often seen grazing together. An interesting thing about the way zebras graze is that some bend down to eat while others look around to guard against predators. As such, zebras are unselective eaters in comparison to other herbivores.

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Enemies of the African Zebra

The African Lion the Zebra's enemy 6

zebra-lion  400 x 300

The enemies of the African zebra include African lions, hyenas, African leopards, African wild dogs, cheetahs and man. African lions are quite capable of killing a full grown African zebra, but generally, they only kill the weak, old, sick or young zebras. Ths African zebra’s main defense against lion attacks is it’s ability to run away. African zebras can run between thirty to forty miles per hour.

zebra becomes food

African zebra’s also have the ability to kick a potential predator with a deadly force that gives even the hungriest predator some pause before taking on a health zebra. The weak, sick, old and young zebras are another matter, however, without the speed or strength of a healthy African zebra these individuals are not only taken regularly by lions, but also by hyenas, leopards, African wild dogs and cheetahs.

African Leopard 2

cheetah

The African zebra is a significant prey animal and food sources mostly for African lions and hyenas, but the other predators do take them occasionally. During the famous seasonal migration between the Serengeti plains and the Maassai Mara National Reserve, migrating zebras also end up on the menu for the nile crocodile and sometimes, even the African hippo.

Nile Crocodile

African Wilddogs 2

Inspite of these natural predators, the most lethal enemy of the African zebra is man. Man hunts the African zebra for it’s hide, but he also kills the African zebra in other ways. As man expands his cattle lands and fences off water sources for his cattle the African zebra losses habitat and the African zebra populations decrease.

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Is the Zebra White With Black Stripes or Black With White Stripes?

African Zebra Stamp - 1921 Companhia Do Nyassa - 30 centavos

1921 African Zebra Stamp – Companhia Do Nyassa – 30 centavos

One question that has always fascinated men is whether the African zebra is white with black stripes or black with white strips.  Although African folklore and legends suggest that the African zebra was originally a white animal that acquire the black stripes, studies of zebra embryos have shown that the African zebra is initially a black animal with the white stripes appearing later in its development.

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