Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Grévy's Zebra

The well-known plains zebra is perhaps one of the most familiar symbols of African wildlife. This fully striped member of the horse family has been the subject of many films and photographs, and maintains a strong presence throughout its range. However, there is another species of zebra that looks somewhat unrelated; the Grévy's zebra.
The Grévy's zebra is the largest wild member of the equine family in the world. Most measure 8-9 feet from head to tail, stand around five feet high at the shoulders and weigh 800-1000lbs. Compared to other zebras which are horse-like in appearance, the Grévy's zebra has a larger head, longer ears and thicker mane. Many experts consider the Grévy's zebra to be more closely related to donkeys than horses, and it is thus classified as the only member of the subgenus Dolichohippus. In addition to differences in physical proportions, the Grévy's zebra can be distinguished from plains zebras by their narrower, more closely-spaced stripes and pure-white undersides.
Grévy's zebras also differ in behavior from other zebra species. Whereas most zebras live in herds or harems, the Grévy's zebra often does not. Mares and their foals can be found together in loosely-defined herds, but stallions are usually territorial, occasionally living in small groups outside of mating season, or roaming alone if they are bachelors. .

Native to much of eastern Africa, Grévy's zebras can usually only be found today in isolated pockets of Kenya and Ethiopia. Though now a protected species in both countries, Grévy’s zebra populations have dropped 75% in the last fifty years to an estimated remaining wild population of 2,500 animals. The population was considered stable as of 2008.

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