The true symbol of Africa, mountain zebras have this name because of their incredible climbing ability. Once they were on the verge of extinction, but now, they are at a vulnerable stage.
Mountain Zebra Scientific Classification
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Perissodactyla
- Family: Equidae
- Genus: Equus
- Species: Equus zebra
Mountain Zebra Appearance
- Lifespan: 20-30 years
- Length: 6 feet 11 inches to 8 feet 6 inches
- Height: 3 feet 10 inches to 4 feet 11 inches
- Weight: 450-820 pounds
- Top speed: 35-40 mph
The mountain zebras have the same color combination as the rest of the existing zebra species.
The black and white stripes cover their whole body, except their stomachs, which are white.
They might have pitch black or deep brown stripes. There’s a short main of hair from the back of their neck to the top of their head. These short tufts stay upright.
Mountain zebras never look alike. From their face to the pattern of their stripes, one can easily be identified from the other.
Their ears are pointy and slender. They have one toe on their four hoofs.
Mountain zebras are medium-sized individuals. They lack the long neck people associate with most zebras.
There are two mountain zebra subspecies: the Hartmann’s mountain zebra (Equus zebra hartmannae), which is covered in brown stripes, and the Cape mountain zebra (Equus zebra zebra), which are mostly found at Mountain Zebra National Park, a nature reserve for the endangered Cape mountain zebra.
Did you know? The Hartmann’s mountain zebra is three times heavier than the plains zebra to accommodate the increased number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells needed in a high-altitude environment and the Cape mountain zebra.
Mountain Zebra Range & Habitat
Mountain zebras are particularly fond of slopes. In general, they wander around the mountains of South West Africa.
While there’s a clear preference for grasslands, they are spotted in desert regions, arid and semi-arid. Hartmann’s mountain zebras can be found in salt flats, too.
- Continents: Africa
- Countries: Angola, Namibia, South Africa
Savanna | Shrubland | Grassland
Mountain Zebra Behavior and Lifestyle
Mountain zebras follow a schedule similar to humans. They are awake during the day and sleep through the night. Half the time they spend staying awake is dedicated to feeding.
They are especially jubilant during sunrise and sunset. They don’t forget to hydrate twice a day either.
Mountain zebras bathe at least two times every day. Though, it’s not bathing in the water. Instead, they roll around in the dirt. They remove parasites from their fur in this manner.
Mountain Zebra Diet
Like all zebras and those belonging to the family of horses, mountain zebras have a vegetarian diet. Their primary food source is grass.
They also eat leaves, fruits from shrubs, and shoots. In captivity, they can replace green grass with hay and pellets.
Mountain zebras are selective with the grass and plants they consume. They won’t feed on any species of grass available to them.
They inspect the quality of the grass and determine if it is nutritious enough. The protein level has to be above 4 grade. They only eat grasses that are 1.5 inches to 3 inches tall unless they are eating the seed of the grass instead of the green vegetation.
Mountain zebras divide the grass and plant area by those meant for summer and winter. The grass species they reject tend to be of coarse quality. They are almost always short.
For water, they dig the ground. The grass and plants also work to hydrate them. Mountain zebras feed in the area they were born. They do not need to travel far to get access to food. However, they prefer the slopes in particular, as grass grows in abundance there.
Their affinity for grass and plants is why humans cutting up trees and constructing buildings on their mountain lands almost pushed them towards extinction. Currently, climate change is also restricting their access to water and food.
Mountain Zebra Reproduction and Mating
Unlike plain zebras, mountain zebras don’t have a herd. Instead, they have a small group with one stallion and one to five mares. Stallions are male zebras while mares are females of the species.
Adolescent male zebras form a group of their own. Once they mature, they try and find a mare from another group. The stallion from the group challenges this. The norm is to have a harem for stallions.
The mountain zebras engage in breeding every one to 3 years period. After a year, one foal is born. From 13 to 37 months, they become old enough to leave their mother’s side. For Hartmann’s Mountain Zebras, foals are told to leave the herd when they are 14 to 16 months.
After leaving their herd, they wander alone for a while before they find a bachelor group. Young mares are likely to join a separate breeding herd or go after a male zebra to form a new one.
Mountain Zebra Conservation Status
Mountain Zebra Predators and Threats
The status of mountain zebras is vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. The mountain zebras were reduced to 100 during the 30s, bringing them to the brink of extinction.
After vigorous care, the number was brought up to 1,200 in captivity. The wilder population had gone up to 2,700. Safeguarded in national parts, mountain zebras still face threats.
Their main predators were always cheetahs, spotted hyenas, lions, leopards, and hunting dogs. Hartmann’s mountain zebras are hunted for their skin by humans. The farming activities in Namibia also restrict their access to food and water.
There are 9,000 mature mountain zebras in the world.
Mountain Zebra Facts
Some facts about this zebra species:
- Mountain zebras, along with all other zebra species, are native to Africa. In other countries, they can only be found in the zoo.
- It is legal to own mountain zebras in most countries. However, it’s best not to unless one has a suitable habitat for them to survive.
- Zebras become capable of running no longer than an hour since their birth. Hartmann’s mountain zebras, especially, race, play-fight and chase each other in jest. This is mainly among the foals in a herd.
- Mountain zebras are shorter than plain zebras but have longer ears.
- Mountain zebras can not breed with other zebra species. Even Cape mountain zebras can not mix with Hartmann’s mountain zebras.