The Burchell’s Zebra (Equus quagga) or Plains Zebra occurs from southern Ethiopia through East Africa down to Namibia and South Africa. Thereby, it is the most widespread of the three zebra species (the others are the Mountain Zebra and Grevy’s Zebra).
Its most prominent feature are the black and white stripes covering the animal from head to hoof. The long existing discussion whether zebras are black with white stripes or white with black stripes has been solved by studying embryos. In early stages these embryos have a black background colour with the white stripes being added during growth. The function of the striping pattern is not completely known. The best guesses are that individual zebras recognise each other after their stripes and that the pattern discourages biting flies. A distinctive feature of the zebras of southern Africa are brown “shadow” stripes in between the black and white colouring.
The Burchell’s Zebra occurs in a variety of habitats, but mostly on treeless grasslands. Here they form groups and graze. Since they are highly water-dependent, they are usually found within short distances of a water source. Zebras are very social animals and many interactions between individuals of the herd such as mutual grooming or fights among stallions can be studied.
The photographs in this blog have been taken in the Etosha National Park, Namibia, in February 2007.