This group of Plains Zebra, seen in September between Crocodile Bridge and Lower Sabie in the Kruger National Park, illustrates perfectly just how well those black-and-white stripes are at breaking the individual animals’ outlines, making it much more difficult for a predator to single out a target.
When the last Quagga mare died in Amsterdam Zoo in 1883, it was thought that this uniquely South African species of zebra was hunted into extinction, never to be seen again. Where once thousands of Quaggas, with their striped forequarters and brown backs and buttocks roamed the Karoo their distinct “kwa-ha-ha” calls would never be heard again. Over a century later however it was realised, through DNA analysis, that the Quagga was a localised race of the still extant Plains Zebra, and the Quagga Project came into being to try and bring them back through selective breeding. With each subsequent generation showing more and more Quagga-like characteristics, one day we may again see true-to-form Quaggas roaming their native country in vast numbers.
The area in which Mokala National Park is located would have been populated by zebras that were intermediate in appearance between the Quaggas and more “traditionally” patterned Plains Zebras, and thus when the Park was proclaimed it was decided to specifically stock it with zebras that had a lesser degree of striping, especially on their backs and haunches. These pale-rumped zebras are certainly an endearing feature of the Park.
If you’d like to learn more about Mokala National Park, why not have a read through the detailed post we did about the Park in 2016.
With the Kruger National Park in the drought’s firm grip, we weren’t surprised that the majority of our sightings of Plains Zebra during our recent winter visit to the Satara and Mopani areas were near or at some of the artificial water holes maintained by the Park’s staff. The most spectacular congregations were at the Mooiplaas waterhole, where hundreds of zebras (if not more) milled around the water during the midday hours, kicking up dust (often further exacerbated by strong winds) and getting on each other’s nerves.
We encountered these two love-struck plains zebras this past weekend while walking in our local Moreletakloof Nature Reserve. What a contrast to the fighting, kicking and biting zebras from Ithala Game Reserve we showed you a couple of weeks ago!
This is our final entry for the 5 Day Black-and-White Challenge, and it gives us great pleasure to invite our dear friends, Joey and Marks Culver, to join in the challenge. They are experts at black-and-white photography, and showcase their talents on their blog, mjculverphotography, which you really should visit if you’re at all interested to see exactly how black-and-white should be done! Marks & Joey, it’s no problem if you decide not to join in, as long as you know how much we enjoy your blog and appreciate your friendship!
There are only two rules for this challenge:
1. On 5 consecutive days, create a post using either a past or recent photo in B&W.
2. Each day invite another blog friend to join in the fun.
The photogenic plains zebra is one of Africa’s most familiar and popular large game animals and they occur in good numbers in protected areas almost all over South Africa.
They occur in small and relatively stable family groups of up to 30 animals, consisting of a dominant stallion, up to nine mares and their foals of various ages. Young stallions are kicked out of their maternal groups at about the age of three years, and then band together in bachelor groups. Larger groups, that sometimes number into the thousands, are aggregations of these family and bachelor groups. Adults are normally very protective of the foals, though stallions will often kill foals when they take over a family group from another stallion.
Plains zebra inhabits open grasslands and bushveld and avoid densely vegetated areas. They are extremely dependant on water and need to drink daily, and subsists almost exclusively on a diet of grass.
Foals are born at any time of the year, though births peak around the start of the rainy season. The foals can stand and walk within twenty minutes of birth and are suckled until about 13 months of age. Adults weigh between 220 and 340kg (stallions being only slightly heavier than adult mares) and stand up to 1.4m high at the shoulder.
Zebras are a favourite prey of lions and spotted hyenas, and foals also often fall prey to leopards, cheetahs and wild dogs. As a result, their life expectancy in the wild is usually below 20 years.