Where do plains zebras live?
Plains zebras have a wide range in east and southern Africa. They usually live in treeless grasslands and savanna woodlands and are absent from deserts, rainforests, and wetlands. This species’ habitat is shrinking, however, and plains zebras are now extinct in Burundi and Lesotho.
Tags: Botswana, DRC, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, East Africa, Southern Africa, Samburu
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What is a plains zebra?
Also known as the common zebra, plains zebras are the most common and widespread species of zebra—even appearing on the coat of arms of Botswana. Larger than the mountain zebra, and smaller than the Grevy’s, this ungulate is horse-like but has a mane of short, erect hair, a tail with a tuft at the tip, and bears recognizable vertical stripes.
They travel regularly.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of zebras gather up their young and begin the long journey from Tanzania’s Serengeti plains, north to Kenya. This annual trek to find food and water covers a distance of around 1,800 miles and exposes zebras to a myriad of dangers. River crossings leave zebras vulnerable to crocodiles, while the size of the migration itself brings lions, hyenas, and wild dogs.
They have harems.
Plains zebras live in small family groups called “harems.” These groups consist of one stallion, several mares, and their offspring. Harems generally remain together for months or even years, making it an incredibly stable family unit.
Plains zebras have at least 6 different vocal calls. A two-syllable call is used to alert herd members to predators while snorts indicate happiness. Zebras also use facial expressions to communicate. When greeting each other, zebras will stick their ears up and push their faces forward. When feeling threatened they will press their ears against their heads.
They aren’t picky eaters.
Unlike many ungulates in Africa, zebras do not require short grass to graze. Instead, they eat a wide variety of different grasses, sometimes even eating leaves and young trees. As a result, zebras can range more widely than many other species, often venturing into woodlands. Zebras are considered to be “pioneer grazers”—preparing plains for more specialized grazers who rely on short, nutritional grasses.