WHY DO ZEBRAS HAVE STRIPES?

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At first glance, one would think the stripes are meant to help zebras blend into the tall grasses like this lovely example. That’s a good answer, but not the key reason. The stripes help all the zebras blend into what looks like one large animal when they are together in a herd. Predators have a harder time distinguishing one lone zebra and isolating it from the herd.

Zebras are also pretty interesting because while they look kind of sweet, they are mean and somewhat cranky. I assumed they were more like horses, but their backs are not built to carry loads and any attempt to domesticate a zebra to make it carry people or cargo would destroy its back.

Zebras are also the thugs in the neighborhood always trying to “out-tough” one another. They bite, kick, and ram each other in brutal fights against rival males to keep their females. Some male zebras see their own offspring as a threat and try to kill young zebras.

Zebras are especially strong when fighting potential predators and there are videos of zebras fending of lion attacks. Our guide told us how to tell the males from the females by the stripe pattern on either side of their tails, but I never did catch on to that. It seemed much easier to use anatomy for that.

Even if the safari made me realize zebras are not horses and are not as sweet as they look, it thrilled me to see herds of sleek zebras grazing in the new meadows after a long wet season. As with other wildlife, zebras are not intimidated by our vehicle, so we were able to spend a lot of time observing and learning about them at each stop. Join us this June for our next safari. You’ll be glad you didn’t wait another year. https://www.ercafricatravel.com/
 

 

Written by Patricia Cole
An Africa Hope Fund board member for 7 years, Pat is a writer and a conservation activist. After traveling to Zambia, she became dedicated to helping Africa Hope Fund provide education to the next generation of Africans and ensure their future by protecting wildlife. Find Patricia on Facebook and Twitter, or on her websites www.writepatwrite.com and www.patmcole.com.
Carol Van Brugen