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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Burchells Zebra

Afrikaans name: Bontzebra or Bontkwagga

Burchell's Zebra drinking at a waterhole

Burchell's Zebra

Photo © Steven Herbert

Equus quagga

Interesting facts about zebras

The Burchell's Zebra is often called the Plains Zebra or sometimes it is referred to as the Common Zebra.

This is the most common species of zebra and it is widely distributed across Africa.

Both male and females can reach 1.4 metres in height at the shoulder and they can weigh over 300 kg.

Are a zebra's stripes used to break up their shape amongst others in the herd or does the pattern confuse predators? Each zebra's pattern is unique and may serve some social function.

A zebra's diet consists almost completely of grass although they may browse on shrubs and herbs. Zebras require regular access to water.

A variety of animals prey on the Burchell's Zebra including Lion, Spotted Hyena, Crocodile and others such as Wild Dog.

Herds of Burchell's Zebra normally consist of a stallion, a few mares and their offspring. Males may also group together to form bachelor herds.

During the wet season females give birth to their foals. She may nurse the foal for up to a year. At some point the young males leave the herd while young females will at some point will join other herds.

Burchell's Zebra at Tala Game Reserve

Burchell's Zebra youngster getting a nip

Photo © Steven Herbert

Above - Burchell's Zebras may defend themseles by biting but they also seem to bite other herd members for 'fun'. Here a sub-adult tries out his biting abilities on a youngster.

Burchell's Zebras fighting in KRuger National Park

Photo © Steven Herbert

Above - Burchell's Zebras  stallions will fight to defend their territories. They bite eachother and can deliver powerful kicks.

Does the black and white pattern of a Burchell's Zebra confuse predators?

Photo © Steven Herbert

Above - It is said that the colouration of the Burchell's Zebra may help to confuse predators as it breaks up their shape. If you look at the above photo of 4 zebras you can see  how their might be some truth in that theory.

Burchell's Zebra doing the 'flehmen'

Photo © Steven Herbert

Above - Burchell's Zebras have a good sense of humour and love a good joke. No, not really! This zebra is actually smelling something really intriguing (me?). This posture is called the 'flehmen' and allows a zebra, or horse, to more effectively smell the air.


Burchell's Zebra - Meet the herd!

Afrikaans name: Bontzebra

Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve is not big compared to proper game reserves. It does however have a number of Burchell's Zebras. These photographs illustrate a small herd consisting of a stallion, 6 mares and one foal.

The stallion in this Zebra herd

Photos by Steven Herbert

Burchell's Zebra mare Burchell's Zebra mare Burchell's Zebra mare Burchell's Zebra mare Burchell's Zebra mare Burchell's Zebra - Mother of the foal Burchell's Zebra foal


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References and further reading

African Wildlife - A photographic safari - Author: Nigel and Wendy Dennis - Year Published: 1999 - Page: 44

An Introduction to the Larger Mammals of Southern Africa - Author: Joanna Dalton - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 158

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 9

Caravan & Outdoor Life - Issue 622 - Author: - Year Published: - Page: 58

Chris and Tilde Stuart's Field Guide to the Mammals of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Chris and Tilde Stuart - Year Published: 1988 - Page: 170

Field Guide to the Cradle of Humankind - Author: B. Hilton-Barber & Prof. L. R. Berger - Year Published: 2004 - Page: 157

Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Chris and Tilde Stuart - Year Published: 1997 - Page: 74

Field Guide to the Mammals of Southern Africa - 3rd Edition - Author: Chris and Tilde Stuart - Year Published: 2001 - Page: 170

Field Guide to the Mammals of the Kruger National Park - Author: U. de V. Pienaar et al. - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 104

Kruger National Park Questions and Answers - Author: P.F. Fourie - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 182

Kruger National Park, Visitor's Map - Author: - Year Published: 1996 - Page: 4

Land Mammals of Southern Africa - A field guide - Author: Reay HN Smithers - Year Published: 1986 - Page: 143

Mammals of Southern Africa - Author: Burger Cillier - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 67

Mammals of the Kruger and other National Parks - Author: The National Parks Board - Year Published: 1980 - Page: 78

Places to Visit in Southern Africa - Author: AA RSA - Year Published: 1995 - Page: 166

Questions and Answers - Mammals of Southern Africa - Author: Deirdre Richards - Year Published: 1990 - Page: 5

Questions and Answers - Mammals of Southern Africa - Author: Deirdre Richards - Year Published: 1990 - Page: 11

Questions and Answers - Mammals of Southern Africa - Author: Deirdre Richards - Year Published: 1990 - Page: 23

Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of Southern Africa - 2nd edi - Author: Editor - Alan Duggan - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 417

Sasol First Field Guide to Animal Tracks of Southern Africa - Author: Louis Liebenberg - Year Published: 2003 - Page: 41

Signs of the Wild - 3rd Edition - Author: Clive Walker - Year Published: 1986 - Page: 137

Signs of the Wild - 5th Edition - Author: Clive Walker - Year Published: 1996 - Page: 132

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 216

List of South African Mammals

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