The iconic plains zebra (Equus quagga) is the most abundant and conspicuous of all Africa’s grazing animals. This species exhibits a large degree of diversity, and is currently separated into six subspecies based on variations in features such as coat patterning, the presence of a mane, extent of stripe coverage and body size. The plains zebra typically possesses relatively broad black stripes, which are vertical on the body, but become horizontal on the hindquarters . The presence of horizontal stripes on the legs and rump is, however, variable, with the extent of leg striping diminishing from the north to the south of the species' range. In some populations there may also be faint brown 'shadow' stripes between the main stripes . Various theories have been put forward to explain the function of zebra stripes, including dazzling predators and temperature regulation, but the most plausible theory appears to be that they serve a social function, stimulating group cohesion and grooming behaviour. Other methods of plains zebra communication include facial expressions, body movements, and sounds, such as a braying bark.
The plains zebra occupies grassland and savanna woodland, from sea-level to elevations of up to 4,300 metres on Mount Kenya. A highly adaptable species, the plains zebra is capable of surviving in areas with coarse vegetation with little nutritional value, but needs to have access to water for daily drinking
Burchell's zebras are herbivores that primarily graze on grass. They also occasionally browse on herbs, leaves and twigs. Most of their diet (90%) comes from the stems and sheaths of short grasses, especially favored are Themeda triandra, Cynodon dactylon, Eragrustis superba, and Cenchrus ciliaris.
The plains zebra is classified as Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List.
The plains zebra breeds throughout the year, peak numbers of births mostly occur during the wet season. The gestation period lasts for around 360 to 396 days, and a single young is produced which is capable of standing almost immediately and starts to eat grass within a week. The foal is weaned at 7 to 11 months and reaches puberty at 16 to 22 months.
Head-body length: 217 - 246 cm Shoulder height: 110 - 145 cm. Weight 175 - 385 kg.
Update : 11 April 2017