Cape mountain zebra

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Cape Mountain zebra
Mountain zebras.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Perissodactyla
Family: Equidae
Genus: Equus
Subgenus: Hippotigris
Species: Equus zebra
Subspecies: Equus zebra zebra
Trinomial name
Equus zebra zebra
Mountain Zebra Distributions.jpg
Range map of Equus zebra zebra and Equus zebra hartmannae

The Cape mountain zebra, Equus zebra zebra, occurs in limited mountainous regions of the Western and Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa. The species grazes on grass and forbs but in times of shortage will browse on shrubs and trees. It once was regarded as a separate species from Hartmann's mountain zebra, but in the light of genomic evidence the two populations now are regarded as subspecies of Equus zebra.[2]


The Cape mountain zebra differs slightly from the Hartmann's subspecies, being stockier and having longer ears and a larger dewlap. In its build it is the smallest subspecies of zebra. Its stripes are black and closely spaced on a white background. They are broad on the upper hind legs, but narrower towards the forequarters and head. The striping continues all the way down to the hooves, but stops on the flanks, leaving the belly white.[3]

Social behaviour[edit]

Mountain zebras associate in small groups of two types: family groups and bachelor groups. A family group comprises a mature stallion and up to about five mares (usually two or three) plus their offspring. Stallions that cannot obtain mares associate loosely in bachelor groups. Members of a family group normally stay together for many years; one stallion in the Mountain Zebra National Park is known to have stayed with his herd for more than a decade until he was at least 17 years old.[4]

Prevention of extinction[edit]

The Cape mountain zebra, though never locally numerous, formerly inhabited all the mountain ranges of the southern Cape Province of South Africa. By 1922, however, only 400 were believed to survive. [1] In 1936, when Minister of Lands (and former Boer War general) Jan Kemp was asked to set aside a special reserve for the Cape mountain zebra, he gave his now infamous reply: "No! They're just a lot of donkeys in football jerseys."[5]

In 1937 in response to the continued decline, the government established the Mountain Zebra National Park on acacia veld near Cradock, South Africa, but its small population of Cape mountain zebra died out in 1950. That same year reintroductions from nearby remnant populations began.

Eleven animals were donated from a nearby farm in 1950, and in 1964 another small herd was added. By the late 1960s, the total Cape mountain population was only 140 but grew to 200 by 1979, with 75 percent of the animals in Mountain Zebra National Park. In 1984, the population was back to 400 head. Since then a few zebras have been reintroduced to the Cape Point Section of Table Mountain National Park.


  1. ^ Novellie, P. 2008. Equus zebra ssp. zebra. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <>. Downloaded on 17 January 2013.
  2. ^ Wilson, Don E. & Reeder, DeeAnn M. Mammal Species of the World. Pub: Johns Hopkins University Press; 3rd ed. 2005. ISBN 978-0801882210
  3. ^
  4. ^ Mills, Gus and Hes, Lex (1997). The Complete Book of Southern African Mammals. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. ISBN 0947430555. 
  5. ^ IOL: Environment

External links[edit]