Photo of the Day
“Out of the Grass, Into the Stripes”
Photo credit: Shazaad Kasmani
While most know that zebras’ stripes serve as camouflage for protection from predators (when grouped together, their stripes make it hard for a predator to see just a single individual), there remains the conundrum of: Is it a black coat with white stripes, or a white coat with black stripes? Zebras are usually perceived as having white coats with black stripes because the general observation is that the stripes end on their bellies and legs, with the rest of the body white. If you take a look closer, zebras actually have black skin underneath their coats. So what it really comes down to is: are you a “the coat is half black” or a “the coat is half white” person?
This unique coat has made the zebra a target of poachers for a very long time. This, in conjunction with habitat loss and competition with livestock for resources, have been major threats to zebras throughout Africa. Particularly hard-hit, have been Grevy’s Zebras (listed as ‘endangered’) and Mountain Zebras (listed as ‘vulnerable’). The Quagga was a subspecies of the Plains Zebra that was once found abundantly in South Africa’s Cape Province. Unfortunately, overhunting drove the Quagga to extinction more than a century ago. The last known true Quagga died in the Amsterdam Zoo in 1883.
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