Burchell's zebra

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Burchell's zebra
Equus quagga burchellii - Etosha, 2014.jpg
Etosha National Park, Namibia

One or two shadow stripes rest between the bold, broad stripes on the haunch, providing to the uniqueness of the Damara Zebra.

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Perissodactyla
Family: Equidae
Genus: Equus
Subgenus: Hippotigris
Species: E. quagga
Subspecies: E. q. burchellii
Trinomial name
Equus quagga burchellii
Gray, 1824
Synonyms

Equus quagga antiquorum


Botswana
Botswana
Namibia
Namibia
Swaziland
Swaziland
South Africa
South Africa

Burchell's zebra (Equus quagga burchellii) is a southern subspecies of the plains zebra. It is named after the British explorer and naturalist William John Burchell. Common names include: Bontequagga, Burchell's Zebra, Damara Zebra, and Zululand Zebra (Gray, 1824).[1]

Burchell's zebra is the only breed of zebra which may be legally farmed for human consumption.[2]

Physical Characteristics[edit]

Like most plains zebras, females and males are relatively the same size. Year-round reproduction observed in this subspecies in Etosha National Park, Namibia, concludes synchronization of a time budget between males and females, possibly explaining the lack of sexual dimorphism.[3]

It is no mystery that zebras have stripes. Damara zebras are described as being striped on the head, the neck, and the flanks, and sparsely down the upper segments of the limbs then fading to white.[4] One or two shadow stripes rest between the bold, broad stripes on the haunch.[4] This main, distinguishing characteristic sets the Zuzuland Zebra apart from the other subspecies. Gray (1824), observed a distinct dorsal line, the tail only bristly at the end, and the body distinctly white.[1] The dorsal line is narrow and becomes gradually broader in the hinder part, distinctly margined with white on each side.[1]

Range and Adaptation[edit]

Formerly Burchell's zebra ranged north of the Vaal/Orange river system, extending northwest via southern Botswana to Etosha and the Kaokoveld, southeast to Swaziland and Kwazulu-Natal. Now extinct in the middle portion, it survives at the northwestern and southeastern ends of the distribution(Groves and Grubb, 2011).[4]

According to Neuhaus and Ruckstuhl (2002), the Southern and Eastern populations differ notably in size.[3] The hypothesis withstands that in the last 1.8 million years, the Eastern African climate fluctuated more than that of the Southern African climate.[3] The climate resulted with the strong size reduction of the Eastern African zebras, therefore representing adaptation to a new environment.[3] The South African environment remained constant, having a less dramatic effect on the zebras in the south region.[3]

The Burchell's zebra migrates the longest distance of any terrestrial animal in Africa, traveling 160 miles one way.[5] They migrate from the Chobe River in Namibia to Nxai Pan National Park in Botswana.[5] Their migration follows a straight line north-south route almost entirely within the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area[5] (KAZA).


Extinct subpopulation[edit]

Specimens from the extinct population, 1886

Like other plains zebras, Burchell's zebras must have populated the African plains in impressive numbers. Associations of thousands have been reported. The wild herds were thought to have disappeared by 1910, and the last known captive individual died in the Berlin Zoo in 1918. As European settlement spread northward from the Cape to colonial southern Rhodesia, this subspecies was thought to have been hunted to extinction.

However, Groves and Bell concluded in their 2004 publication that "the extinct true Burchell's zebra" is a phantom.[6] Careful study of the original zebra populations in Zululand and Swaziland, and of skins harvested on game farms in Zululand and Natal, has revealed that a certain small proportion shows similarity to what now is regarded as typical burchellii. The type localities of the subspecies Equus quagga burchellii and Equus quagga antiquorum (Damara zebra) are so close to each other that they suggest that the two are in fact one, and therefore the older of the two names should take precedence over the younger. They therefore say that the correct name for the southernmost subspecies must be burchellii not antiquorum.[6] The subspecies Equus quagga burchellii still exists in KwaZulu-Natal and in Etosha. Equus quagga burchellii can be found in a number of zoo's in the United States including the following: the Cincinnati Zoo, Columbus Zoo, Naples Zoo, Nashville Zoo, Oregon Zoo, Woodland Park Zoo, etc.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Gray, J. E. (1824). "A Revision of the Family Equidae". Zoological Journal 1 (2): 241-248. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Powell, Emma (23 July 2014). "Zebra meat: Exotic and lean - but does it taste good?". Independent Digital News and Media Ltd. The Independent. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Neuhaus, P; Ruckstuhl, K. E. (2002). "The link between sexual dimorphism, activity budgets, and group cohesion: the case of the plains zebra (Equus burchelli)". Canadian Journal of Zoology 80 (8): 1437–1441. Retrieved 13 July 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c Groves, Colin; Grubb, Peter (2011). Ungulate Taxonomy. JHU Press. pp. 13–17. ISBN 9781421400938. Retrieved 13 July 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2014/05/27/Burchells-zebras-trek-300-miles-longest-migration-in-Africa/3991401212662/
  6. ^ a b Groves, C. P.; Bell, H. B. (2004). "New investigations on the taxonomy of the zebras genus Equus, subgenus Hippotigris". Mammalian Biology 69: 182–196. doi:10.1078/1616-5047-00133.