Genus and Species: Equus grevyi
In its habits and geographic distribution, the Grevy's zebra
occupies a middle ground between asses and other zebras.
heads, large and rounded ears, and thick, erect manes make
the Grevy's zebra appear more mule-like than other zebras.
In fact, many experts consider Grevy's zebras to be striped
asses that are not closely related to other zebras. Their
coats sport dazzling narrow stripes that wrap around each
other in a concentric pattern and are bisected by a black
stripe running down the spine.
Grevy's zebras grow
up to nine feet long, weigh up to 990 pounds, and stand up
to almost five and a half feet at the shoulder. On average,
males are about ten percent larger than females.
zebras live in northern Kenya and southern and eastern Ethiopia.
Grevy's zebra is listed
as endangered on the World Conservation Union's (IUCN's) Red
List of Threatened Animals.
Grevy's zebras inhabit
semi-desert areas, including arid grasslands and dusty acacia
savannas. The most suitable areas have water year-round.
graze primarily on tough grasses, but they also browse on
leaves, which may constitute up to 30 percent of their diet.
usually mate in August, September, and October, and bear foals
during the rainy seasons. After mating, females give birth
to a single foal 13 months later. Foals nurse heavily for
half a year and may travel with their mothers for three years.
Groups of females with young form herds of up to 200 animals.
In zoos, Grevy's
zebras may live to about 20 years old; longevity in the wild
is likely shorter.
Males are highly
territorial, claiming prime watering and grazing areas with
piles of dung called middens. They generally live alone in
their territories, except when females move through during
mating season. Non-territorial males travel together in groups
of two to six animals. This social system differs from that
of other zebras, which typically form female harems that live
in one male's territory all year. During dry months, many
Grevy's zebras migrate to greener mountain pastures, but males
on prime territories often remain there year-round.
reveal that Grevy's zebras ranged at least to Egypt (and perhaps
beyond Africa) until about 6,000 years ago. In historic times,
Grevy's zebras were found in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, and
Somalia. Due to hunting for their skins and for food, they
no longer live in Somalia, and their range in Ethiopia and
Kenya is reduced. The total wild population is probably fewer
than 6,000 animals. Competition with domestic grazing animals,
habitat destruction, and human disturbance at critical water
holes contribute to their decline. Also, poorly regulated
ecotourism—especially when vehicles leave roads and disturb
the animals—may affect breeding in some parks. Better protection
and linkages between important park areas are essential for
Grevy's zebras' survival.
The Grevy's zebra is the largest wild member of the horse
Each zebra has its own unique set of stripes, which are as
distinctive as fingerprints.
A denizen of extremely dry places, Grevy's zebras were once
widespread in Africa and perhaps outside the continent. Some
scientists think plains zebras (Equus burchelli) took their
place after less arid savannas replaced more arid ones in
A Few Grevy's Zebra Neighbors
jubatus): The world's fastest and most specialized cat
shares some of the Grevy's zebra's strongholds.
Beisa oryx (Oryx
gazella beisa): A large, long-horned antelope with black
stripes on its flanks and face.
Vulturine guineafowl (Acryllium
vulturinum): A bare-headed gamebird with dazzling black,
blue, and white plumes.
By saving Grevy's zebra habitat, we protect these and many