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Masai Mara Game Reserve Things to Do: 203 reviews and 438 photos

by grets

A member of the horse family, the zebra has a black background colour with bold contrasting white stripes continuing all the way down to hooves. Each zebra has a unique pattern. These stripes may help to confuse predators chasing the zebra, making them misjudge distances. Shoulder height 50?; weight ca 500 lbs. Large eyes and ears help the zebra detect predators early, allowing it to run away.

The zebra is non-selective in its grazing habits, feeding on available grasses, especially grass stems and sheaths. They are nomadic herbivores, spending most of their time grazing. The large barrel-shaped body holds a very large amount of relatively un-nutritious grass and the zebra is very dependent on water, thus usually stays close to a watering hole.

Zebras live in stable family groups of up to 17 animals headed by a single stallion. Mares stay with the group; offspring leave. Females establish a dominance hierarchy. During travel, group is led by the dominant female and her foal, followed by other females in their order of dominance. Members recognize each other by sight primarily, but also by voice and smell. Families maintain close bonds even during extended migrations with thousands of other zebra and wildebeest. The family will slow its pace to allow weak ones to keep up; they don?t leave them.

The stallion is the rear guard when the family flees from a predator. They are capable of running 40 mph in short bursts in order to escape from predators, and use hooves and teeth in defence. They also have a powerful kick that can cause serious injury to a predator.

The zebra is the only grazer to have both upper and lower incisors; it can thus snip the grass blade (rather than yanking it out), exposing the tender under grasses for others. The antelope of the plains rely on the zebra to open up the grasslands for them, removing the tough outer layers to expose nutritious parts.

One young is born after a gestation of ca 1 year. Newborn has brown stripes and is short-bodied and long-legged.

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  • Written Jan 7, 2005
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