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We Are Equine Family!

  • 07/17/09
  • Erin

“One of my favorite animals in the world is the horse. I love horses! Since you started this blog, I wanted to ask the question I have always wanted to ask: are there any horses native to Africa?”

-Jen, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Well, yes and no. There are horses that are native to Africa but they did not originate in Africa.

The Barb horses of northern Africa (they get their name as they were developed along the Barbary Coast of northern Africa in roughly the 8th Century)

probably originated from the nearby middle eastern region and -- like camels -- came to Africa with the migrating people of this region. The Barb horses -- of which there are three breeds: the Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian -- are native to Africa, but they did not originate on the continent.

That being said, there are a quite a few beautiful and wonderful animals within the equine family that are native to AND originate on the African continent: the African wild ass (Equus africanus), the Nubian wild ass (Equus africanus africanus), the Somali wild ass (Equus africanus somaicus), the Plains zebra (Equus quagga), Grevy’s zebra (Equus Grevy), Mountain zebra (Equus sebra), Burchell's zebra (Equus quagga burchellii), Grant's zebra (Equus quagga boehmi), Selous' zebra (Equus quagga borensis), Chapman's zebra (Equus quagga chapmani), Crawshay's zebra (Equus quagga crawshayi), the Cape Mountain zebra (Equus zebra zebra) and Hartmann’s mountain zebra (Equus zebra hartmannae).

[caption id="attachment_1319" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Not a horse but still family: a dazzle of Grevy’s zebras "]Not a horse but still family: a dazzle of Grevy’s zebras [/caption]

Did You Know…?

- The Grevy’s zebra is also known as the Imperial zebra

- Zebras are more closely related to the African wild ass than horses

- The name ‘zebra’ comes from the Old Portuguese word ‘zevra’ meaning ‘wild ass’

- The Swahili word for zebra is punda milia which literally means striped donkey

- The Plains zebra (aka the Common zebra) has six sub-species in its genealogy, including the extinct Quagga

Wait! Before You Go…

Although not a horse, zebras are, indeed, a part of the equine family and you can take action to help protect them. You can help us help the endangered Grevy’s zebra by supporting AWF’s Grevy’s Zebra Research Project.

About the Author

Heading up AWF’s membership desk for the past eight years, Erin Keyes has amassed quite a bit of knowledge about Africa’s wildlife and unique wild lands. She’s also an expert on AWF’s membership benefits and programs. She started this blog to share what’s she’s learned and to give AWF supporters another forum for asking questions. So, if you have questions about African wildlife, AWF’s work in Africa, or all the ways you can help Africa’s wildlife and unique wild lands endure, now’s your chance – just Ask Erin.

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AWF Blogs bring you to the critical landscapes we work in, where conservation benefits both wildlife and people alike. The blogs are written by our staff - men and women who have dedicated their lives to Africa's wildlife, people and wild lands.