Burchell's Zebra - Equus burchelli

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Hartmann's Mountain Zebra - Equus zebra hartmanni | Cape Mountain Zebra - Equus zebra zebra | Burchell's Zebra - Equus burchelli


Afrikaans Bontsebra
Zulu Dube Tswana Pitse ya naga 
Shona Mbizi
Photo Kobus Hugo

wpe1E.jpg (9478 bytes)

11 cm

Distribution Dung
6 cm

Unusual features/differences from similar animals

The stripes on the flanks run on to the belly whereas the belly is white with a single stripe along the middle in mountain zebra. Stripes fade out on lower legs but are distinctly striped all the way down in mountain zebra. Stripes on the rump run diagonally and lengthways but crossways in mountain zebra. On the rump there are yellowish shadow stripes in the middle of the white stripes whereas the stripes on the mountain zebra's rump are solid. Like human fingerprints and irises, each individual has a unique stripe pattern.

Visible Male/Female Differences

Males are a little larger than females. Both sexes have a black stripe running vertically between their hind legs; in the males it is narrow and wide in the females. Females have one pair of nipples between their hind legs. Here is a stallion on the left and a mare on the right

Habitat and Distribution

Open woodland, scrub and grassland. Dependent on water and rarely moves more than 12km from it. Very widely translocated.


Unselective bulk feeders. Zebras are less sensitive to food quality than other large herbivores and can maintain good condition on very poor veld.


Single foals weighing 30-35 kg are born at any time of year after a gestation of 360-390 days. Foals can  stand after about 10 minutes, walk after half an hour and can run after an hour. Foals start eating grass within a few days and are weaned at 11 months. Lions  and spotted hyenas take adult zebras; foals are taken by lions, spotted hyenas, leopards and cheetahs. Burchells zebras will stand and fight wild dogs.

Behavior and Habits

Active in the cooler early morning and late afternoon. Drinks at least once a day and prefers clean water. When the water is muddy Burchells zebra  may scrape a hole into which clean water can seeps or they my try to sip cleaner water from the surface. Their home ranges cover 110-220 square km.

Stallions fight viciously for control of females. If males do not have a breeding herd they join bachelor herds which has hierarchy that based on age. Bonds are maintained by mutual grooming. Submission is communicated by lowering of the head and holding the ears back while making chewing movements. Dominance and threats are communicated by holding the head high with ears cocked forward or turned inwards and back, baring the teeth, and chasing. If threatened by predators, herds run in bunches at a top speed is 55 km/h.


The alarm call is a high-pitched, repeated two-syllable 'kwa-hi'. The sound is typical of the  African bushveld and the colloquial name "quagga" is derived from it.

Dung and Field sign

The dung is kidney-shaped lumps, 5 cm or more across, characteristically with a crack across the middle, often loosely stuck together. Areas where dust baths have been taken.


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