Tag Archives: Mountain Zebra National Park

Cape Mountain Zebra

Equus zebra zebra

The Cape Mountain Zebra is a smaller, and much rarer, cousin of the better known plains zebra. It occurs naturally only in the southern provinces of South Africa and is considered vulnerable, though the population is increasing in size thanks to dedicated conservation work at especially the Mountain Zebra and Karoo National Parks, both of which offers an excellent chance of seeing these beautiful animals in their natural habitat.

Mountain Zebras occur in small family groups of up to 15 animals, led by a dominant stallion, while young stallions roam around in bachelor groups after being ejected from the groups they were born in. Adults of both sexes are extremely protective of their young.

Mountain Zebras inhabit, as their name suggests, dry, rocky, mountainous areas and the surrounding plains and valleys (the latter being important as hiding places against cold weather). They are almost exclusively grazing animals and can stay without water for up to three days, though they prefer to drink daily if surface water is available.

Mares give birth to a single foal at any time of the year. With an adult weight of around 250kg and shoulder height of 1.25m, the Cape Mountain Zebra is slightly smaller than the plains zebra.

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Mountain Zebra National Park

A rising star with humble beginnings.

The Mountain Zebra National Park had an inauspicious start. Proclaimed in 1937 near the small town of Cradock to protect the then critically endangered Cape Mountain Zebra, the reserve covered only 1,712 hectares and contained only 6 individual animals of its most precious charges.

Gradually the park was expanded, with much public support, and today the Mountain Zebra National Park is a grand showcase spanning across 28,412 hectares of scenic plains and rugged mountains. Located at the interface between the arid Karoo and the central grasslands, the Park is home to at least 680 plant species which in turn provide habitat and sustenance to a myriad of faunal life.

Here, the Cape Mountain Zebra was saved from the brink of extinction and today the Park houses almost 500 individuals, with thousands more now occurring in other National Parks, numerous state-owned reserves and on private land across their former range.

The Park is now large enough to accommodate many other large, charismatic mammals and visitors have an excellent chance of spotting cheetah, black rhino and buffalo among the other natural denizens of South Africa’s central plains – animals like the black wildebeest and blesbok (both species themselves having been virtually wiped out by the early 1900’s), springbok, red hartebeest, eland, kudu and gemsbok and birds such as the ostrich and blue crane.

The South African National Parks provide accommodation and camping in a picturesque rest camp in the centre of the Park while the Doornhoek Guest House, exclusively located some distance further, provides a luxurious alternative to the standard accommodation fare. This Victorian farmstead has been meticulously restored, is a national monument and has been tastefully furnished with all the modern conveniences while retaining its old world charm thanks to the antique period pieces used to decorate both the interior and farmyard.

In recent times the Mountain Zebra National Park has been growing in popularity, and deservedly so. Park management have introduced a number of unique guided activities, such as cheetah tracking and visits to San rock art sites. Spend a few days at “Bergkwagga” (the Afrikaans name for the Mountain Zebra) and it will be a firm favourite for you too!