In the 1950s there were an estimated 50,000 to 75,000 Hartmann’s mountain zebras. By 1992, that number had dropped to 8,000. These zebras could be facing a further decline driven by hunting and habitat loss.
What's in a stripe?
Each zebra’s stripes are as unique as human fi ngerprints – no two patterns are exactly alike. Scientists aren’t sure why zebras have stripes, but lots of theories are based on camoufl age. The patterns could make it diffi cult for predators to identify a single animal in a running herd. Some researchers think that the stripes might act as a kind of natural sunscreen or bug repellent. Others think the stripes might be used to help zebras recognize each another.
Hartmann’s mountain zebras live in direct confl ict with livestock farmers – grazing grounds are scarce in many parts of Namibia, where little rainfall has occurred for several years. More and more Hartmann’s mountain zebras are being hunted, both legally and illegally – poaching has increased rapidly in recent years.
These zebras live in breeding herds made up of one adult male, one to five adult females and their young. Mares usually remain in a herd for life. It can take up to three years of courtship before the mares in a herd will accept a new stallion. Herds of Hartmann’s mountain zebras are known for their playful behaviours – racing and chasing each other, playing challenge games and play fighting.
At a Glance
Equus zebra hartmannae
240 – 372 kg (528 – 818 lb)
2.1 – 2.6 m (6.9 – 8.5 ft) [length]
Rugged, broken mountains rich in grasses and water in Namibia and Angola.
Herbivore. These zebras prefer to graze on grass, but will also browse on leaves and branches.