Friday, September 2, 2011

Mountain Zebra

True Wild Life | Mountain Zebra | The Mountain Zebra is an endangered species of equid native to south-western Angola, Namibia and South Africa. It has two subspecies, the Cape Mountain Zebra  and Hartmann's Mountain Zebra, though it has been suggested these should be considered separate species. Like all zebras, it is boldly striped in black and white and no two individuals look exactly alike. The stripe can be black and white or dark brown and white. Their stripes cover their whole bodies except for their bellies. The Mountain zebra also has a dewlap.

As its name suggests, the Mountain Zebra lives in higher places than other zebras. Its numbers are decreasing because of hunting for its skin and meat, and also because of droughts. Mountain Zebras are found on mountain slopes, open grasslands, woodlands and areas with sufficient vegetation. Some Mountain Zebras live in the rainforest. Mountain zebras live in hot, dry, rocky, mountainous and hilly habitats. They prefer slopes and plateaus and can be found as high as 1,000 metres above sea level, although they do migrate lower in the winter season. Their diet consists of tufted grass, bark, leaves, buds, fruit and roots. They often dig for ground water.

Mountain zebra are most active in the early morning and late afternoon. They spend up to half of the daylight hours feeding. Mountain zebra live in herds consisting of one adult male (stallion), one to five adult females (mares) and their young. The stallion is the dominant member of the herd. Sometimes herds come together to form temporary groups of up to 30 individuals. Mountain zebra never form the large herds characteristic of Plains zebra, however, they do exhibit a harem-type social system. During the winter they move up to 20 kilometres from a water source. Where they are in danger of being hunted, Mountain zebra water at night, however, when they are not in danger of being hunted, they water at any time.

The Mountain zebras form small family groups consisting of a single stallion, one, two, or several mares, and their recent offspring. Bachelor males live in separate groups and attempt to abduct young mares and are opposed by the stallion. Mountain zebra groups do not aggregate into large herds like Plains zebras. Mares may give birth to one foal every twelve months. Like other equids, zebra foals are able to stand, walk and suckle shortly after they are born. The mare nurses the foal for up to a year, and the young zebra then leave to join bachelor groups or harems.

The Mountain Zebra lives in higher places than any other zebra. It lives in two different locations in southwestern Africa and South Africa. The biggest threat to Mountain Zebras is hunting by people. These animals have long been hunted for their beautifully patterned skins and meat. The Mountain Zebras that live in South Africa have nearly been wiped out twice in the past.

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