The Grant's zebra, Equus quagga boehmi, is the smallest of the six subspecies of plains zebra and is the most common.
Mammalia, Perissodactyla, Equidae
40 years (20 to 30 years in the wild)
1 m at the shoulder; 140 kg at the most
12 months, one baby
Savannahs, bushy plains
Eastern and southern Africa
NT near threatened
Way of life
Zebras live in harems made up of a stallion who provides security by staying at the rear, ready to intervene upon the approach of a predator or a rival, and several females including an alpha, often the eldest one, who leads the group and the young. At around 3 years of age, males join the other singles. Social bonds are strengthened by mutual grooming, which is performed on the neck and back using the tips of the teeth. Females give birth in the middle of the herd, under the protection of the male. The newborn should be ready to get up after a few hours, ready to flee should a predator approach.
Zebras, like a great deal of non-ruminant herbivores who don’t easily digest the plants that they consume, spend up to 70% of their time eating! They also have to drink every day and several herds can be found around waterholes, often along with other species.
The zebra is black at the foetal stage. The white stripes appear as it develops. Young zebras have a longer and thicker reddish-brown coat. The width of the stripes varies depending on the species. For example, the Grévy's zebra has thin stripes which don’t reach down as far as the stomach, while the stripes on the plains zebras, including the Grant's zebra, join up under the stomach. The mane, which is also striped, is made up of short straight hairs on the head and neck.
With eyes on either side of their head, the zebra has a wide field of vision, which helps it to spot predators and alert the rest of the herd.
Several theories attempt to explain why zebras have stripes: they serve as a “barcode” enabling them to recognise each other, or an “optical illusion” to disorient predators, making it difficult for them to distinguish individuals amongst the mass, or as a “repellent” to ward off horseflies and tsetse flies which are usually attracted by polarised light reflected horizontally from a dark-coloured coat, as the white bands would reflect the light in all directions and confuse the biting insects.