Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mountain Zebra

Equus zebra
There are three living species of Zebra out there, the Plains, the Grevy's, and today's animal-- the Mountain. Mountain Zebras are found only in southwestern Africa, residing in hills, and mountain slopes. They live at dry altitudes of up to 3,300ft, and are more surefooted and adapted to climbing than their plains-living relatives. You can identify them from other Zebras by the dewlaps in their throats.

Mountain Zebras live in small groups that are led by a stallion and contain a handful of mares and young offspring. Once colts grow up they leave and join temporary bachelor herds before trying to steal a few females of their own to start a new family group. Mountain Zebras do not form large herds like the Plains Zebras often do.

Equus zebra has two different subspecies that are now regionally separated (and were once thought to be two totally different species). The Cape Mountain Zebra lives in the southern reaches of the range and actually has females that grow larger than the males. In addition, their black stripes are slightly thicker. The Hartmann's Mountain Zebra, which lives further north, has thinner black stripes and exhibits a more standard variety of sexual dimorphism-- males larger than females.

Both of the subspecies are threatened, and are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN. Habitat loss and competition from livestock have played major roles in the decline, and they were once hunted so extensively that less than 100 Cape Mountain Zebras remained in the 1950s. Today that number is around 2,500, and many members of the wild population live within protected areas. Captive breeding programs are  also working to reintroduce the animals to their former ranges.

IUCN Status : Vulnerable
Location : Southwest Africa
Size : Shoulder height up to 4.9ft (1.5m), Weight up to 800lbs (360kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Perissodactyla
Family : Equidae -- Genus : Equus -- Species : E. zebra

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