Zebra facts


Plains zebra (Equus quagga) standing on the plains of the Mara

The plains zebra is the most common and widespread of the three recognised zebra species. With that unmistakable black-and-white striped hair, theyhttp://'''re a familiar but arresting site in the Mara and across East Africa.

The stripes may seem conspicuous in the browns and greens of the plains, but may make it difficult for predators to distinguish and pick off individuals in a herd, particularly at night when colour vision is largely redundant. And during the day, the shimmering heat haze may also aid this deception. Lions and spotted hyenas are the zebrahttp://'''s main threat.

Zebra are closely related to horses, and resemble stocky ponies in shape and size. Theyhttp://'''re powerful animals, weighing around 300kg and standing 1.4m high at the shoulder. Like horses, they can deliver a powerful kick - potentially lethal to a predator. As the name suggests, plains zebra graze on the open grasslands and savannah.


They are very social - most live in small family groups with a stallion, several mares and their foals. Other males live alone or form bachelor groups until they manage to form their own harem, by coercing females away from their families or challenging the breeding stallion.

Zebra family groups often come together to form large herds, particularly where the dry season is harsh, such as the Serengeti in Tanzania. These herds often graze with other species, and a quarter of a million zebra join a million wildebeest to follow the rains in the Great Migration from the Serengeti to the Mara and back.

Did you know?

  • Zebras are black with white stripes and not the other way around.
  • The pattern of black-and-white stripes on a zebra is as individual as a fingerprint.
  • Their shiny coats can dissipate three quarters of incoming heat.
  • They communicate using the position of their ears and tail.

On the Website

Big Cat Raw: the final episode

Cam Highlight: John Aitchisonhttp://'''s Web Safari

More on the Web

In-depth information about and pictures of plains zebras

African Wildlife Foundation
Zebra factfile

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