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Zebra Gifts

There are three species of zebra: the Plains Zebra, Grévy's Zebra and the Mountain Zebra.

Zebras are African equids best known for their distinctive white and black stripes. Their stripes come in different patterns unique to each individual. They are generally social animals and can be seen in small harems to large herds. In addition to their stripes, zebras have erect, mohawk-like manes. Unlike their closest relatives, horses and asses, zebras have never been truly domesticated.

Zebra Stripes

The first time I was introduced to a Zebra was by my artisan uncle. He showed me a wooden sculpture of a Zebra, beautifully painted with black and white stripes. I handled and examined the wood carving as he described it. Later, as I was herding my father's cattle during one of the school holidays, I saw the real Zebra and recognized it immediately. Yes, the black and white stripes are the trade mark of a Zebra. You will recognize it anytime, anywhere and at any age above three.

Plain Zebra,Grev's Zebra and Mountain Zebra are the three Zebra species that are known to exist. Africa is the home of all these species. The Plains Zebra are the most plentiful and can be found virtually anywhere on the Kenyan plains and other parts of East Africa while the Grevy's Zebra are mostly found in Northern Kenya. The Plains Zebra and Grev's Zebra of Kenya have been known to coexist in the same habitat. The Mountain Zebra have their habitat in Southern and Southwestern Africa. Zebras are herbivorous and can grow up to 900 lb (410kg) or more. Being social animal, they move in herds of different sizes.

While the black and white stripe pattern makes the Zebra spectacular, the amazing facts about the stripes go beyond the beauty. For years scientists have argued about why the zebra has distinctive black and white stripes. The theories rotate around Zebra Identity and Camouflage. This article discusses these amazing theories:

- Description:
Whether the Zebra's stripes are white on a black background, as some people say, or vice versa is academic. I leave it at that.

- Identity: At first glance Zebras in a herd might all look alike, but their stripe patterns are as distinctive as fingerprints are in humans. There are, indeed, scientific methods that can identify individual Zebras by comparing patterns, stripe widths and colour. Further proof that Zebra stripes are identity marks is provided by their behavior. For example, on rare occasions when unstriped Zebras are born, they tend to be ignored by the rest of the herd, confirming at least, that Zebra stripes are a passport to Zebra society. Also, when a foal is born, the mother keeps all other Zebras away from it for two to three days, until it learns to recognize her by sight, voice and smell.

- Camouflage: Scientists believe the Zebra's stripes provide camouflage in the following manner:

- The vertical stripes of a Zebra will resemble tall grass, save for the colour-grass is neither black nor white. To a colour blind preditor like a Lion,therefore, the Zebra will perfectly merge with the grass and be invisible especially when it is not moving. - The Zebra stripe pattern forms a discolouration that breaks up the body outline. A herd of Zebras close together may thus appear like one large animal. The advantage of all this to the Zebra is best appreciated when you consider that the main predator for the Zebra is the lion, which is colour blind. Now, in attack, the lion must first identify the target, usually a young, old or a weakened Zebra. The Lion's eyes must then lock on the target Zebra. If, for whatever reason, the Lion is unable to achieve any of these steps, then,its stealth and ambush attack strategy is likely to be in vain.

The Zebra's black and white stripes are its trade mark. Just by seeing a quality wood carving of a zebra, for example, it is possible to easily and confidently identify the real Zebra at first sight. There is ample evidence that the Zebra stripes act as its identity and camouflage tool.

About the Author
Dr. Aggrey Marami has special interest in wild animals and culture. He has lived in close proximity to wild animals for years. For more amazing facts about wild animals and culture visit:-




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