December 15, 2014
Different Stripes for Different Species
- as seen by -Michael Butler Brown
Kenya boasts two distinct species of zebra: the plains zebra (shown here on the left) and the endangered Grevy’s zebra (right). Grevy’s zebra can be distinguished by their thinner stripes, larger bodies, white bellies, and bigger, rounder ears. Aside from their physical differences, the two species also have remarkably different social structures. Plains zebra’s social interactions are characterized by relatively stable harems (or groups of females with a male), whereas Grevy’s zebra have much more tenuous social relationships, with loosely associated females passing through different males’ territories.
Although the Grevy’s zebra and plains zebra typically occupy different habitats, in some areas, like the Laikipia Plateau of Kenya, these two species live on the same landscape. In fact, they are often found side-by-side. This coexistence provides a unique opportunity for researchers to study how the different species respond to the same changes in the environment. These efforts help to provide deeper insights into zebra ecology and potential approaches to zebra conservation.
Canon Rebel xti