My eyes were transfixed as this superb form stood before me. No animal has a more distinctive coat than the Zebra. His dazzling display of impressive stripes, simply mesmerizing. Every individuals stripes are as unique as fingerprints, no two are exactly alike.
We see the Zebras along the plains, moving in herds, their society is made up of family groups of harems and bachelor herds. Stallions will fight viciously for control over the females. They are on high alert, shuffling forward, ears twitching, they seem nervous. They call out with Donkey like brays, it is a sound I love to hear on the plains of Africa.
Young foals, fluffy in appearance, their stripes have a brownish tinge to them at this young stage. They will earn their black and white stripes by the time they are fully grown. Incredibly they are able to stand, walk and suckle shortly after birth. Their legs look so delicate and fragile, like tiny twigs ready to snap under pressure, yet they are amazingly robust. Two youngsters test out some manoeuvres with their new found freedom, their delicate legs dancing upon the plains, a time to kick up their heels. A joyous moment to watch, but when mother calls out to fall into line, the youngsters return to their mother’s side, for their mother is extremely nurturing and protective.
Family groups are stable members maintaining strong bonds over many years. Mutual grooming, where Zebras stand together and nibble the hair on each other’s neck and back, helps develop and preserve these bonds. Family members look out for one another if one becomes separated from the rest, the others search for it. The group adjusts its traveling pace to accommodate the old and the weak.
The black and white stripes are a form of camouflage called disruptive coloration that breaks up the outline of the body. Although the pattern is visible during daytime, at dawn or in the evening when their predators are most active, Zebras look indistinct and may confuse predators by distorting their true distance..