The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Burchells Zebra

Afrikaans name: Bontzebra / Bontkwagga - interessante feite oor sebras

Burchell's Zebra drinking at a waterhole

Burchell's Zebra

Photo © Steven Herbert

Equus quagga

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.

Click here to see interesting facts about zebras


References and further reading

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

Wild Ways - 2nd Edition - Author: Peter Apps - Published: 2000 - Page: 132

Wild Issue 13 - Author: - Published: 2010 - Page: 36

Tracks and Tracking in Southern Africa - Author: Louis Liebenberg - Published: 2000 - Page: 94

The Rough Guide to Game Parks of South Africa - Author: P. Briggs - Published: 2020 - Page: 342

The Mammal Guide of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: Burger Cillie - Published: 2011 - Page: 86

South African Animals in the Wild - Author: Anthony Bannister - Published: 1985 - Page: 55

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maberlys Mammals of Southern Africa - Revised edition - Author: Richard Goss - Published: 1986 - Page: 207

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

Kruger National Park, Visitors Map 1996 - Author: - Published: 1996 - Page: 4

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

Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of SA - 2nd edn - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1991 - Page: 417

Game Ranger in your Backpack - Author: Megan Emmett and Sean Pattrick - Published: 2013 - Page: 56

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

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

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

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

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

Chris and Tilde Stuarts Field Guide to the Mammals of Southern Africa - 1st Edit - Author: Chris and Tilde Stuart - Published: 1988 - Page: 170

Caravan & Outdoor Life - Issue 622 - Author: - Published: 0 - Page: 58

Animals of the World - Zebras - Author: Daphne Machin Goodall - Published: 1977 - Page: 1

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

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

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

A Field Guide to the Tracks & Signs of Southern and East African Wildlife - 3rd - Author: Chris and Tilde Stuart - Published: 2000 - Page: 97

A Field Guide to the Mammals of Africa including Madagascar - Author: Theodor Haltenorth and Helmut Diller - Published: 1980 - Page: 113


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List of South African Mammals

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