Burchell's zebra

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

Equus quagga antiquorum

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. The Burchell's zebra migrates the longest distance of any terrestrial animal in Africa, traveling 160 mile one way.[1] They migrate from the Chobe River in Namibia to Nxai Pan National Park in Botswana.[1] Their migration follows a straight line north-south route almost entirely within the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area[1] (KAZA).


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.[2][unreliable source?]

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[3] publication that "the extinct true Burchell's zebra" is a phantom. 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.[3] The subspecies Equus quagga burchellii still exists in KwaZulu-Natal and in Etosha.


  1. ^ a b c http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2014/05/27/Burchells-zebras-trek-300-miles-longest-migration-in-Africa/3991401212662/
  2. ^ "Burchell's Zebra", Website of Everything
  3. ^ 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.