15 July, 2010

Fun facts: Grevy's Zebra

Also known as the Imperial Zebra, it is the largest species of zebra, and is only found in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia.

They are classified as endangered, with roughly about 16,000 still living in the wild. They have poached for their more beautiful and expensive hides, suffering encroachment by man and domestic animals on their habitats as well as harsh climates.

Found only in harsh semi-arid plains of the Acacia-Commiphora bushlands and thickets, a big number died during the recent drought in most of northern Kenya.

The species gets its name from a former French president, Jules Grevy, who was gifted by the Ethiopian government (Abyssinia) in 1880.

They are known to coexist with the common plains' zebra, but do not inter-breed. They breed all year with the gestation period being between 380 - 400 days, and giving birth to single foals. Newborns follow anything that moves and thus new mothers are highly aggressive towards other mares a few hours after they give birth. This prevents the foal from imprinting another female as its mother. To adapt to an arid lifestyle, Grévy's Zebra foals take longer intervals between suckling bouts and do not drink water until they are 3 months old.

So how do you tell a Grevy from a common zebra?
They have thinner stripes, which do not go round their bellies unlike with common zebras. This is the main distinction. They are broader on the neck, extending to the hooves, and on the rump, are as unique to each animal as our human thumb-prints!.

They are bigger in size, and weigh up to 450 kilos.
They have very large, conical bat-like ears.
Their heads are big, long and narrow, very horse or mule-like.
The manes are tall and erect, making them majestic and very 'royal-like'. They were used by ancient Romans in gladiator fights.

They are one of the special six animals of Samburu - the others being the reticulated giraffe, the Somali ostrich, the gerenuk antelope, the Beisa oryx and a late addition, the vulturine guineafowl.

Heritage Hotels operates a luxury tented Camp is the Samburu National Reserve - Samburu Intrepids Camp. You can read more on Samburu Intrepids at http://www.heritage-eastafrica.com/tented-camps/samburu-intrepids

*This property remains closed till December for renovations following the floods in March. Lookout for the re-opening announcement.

Admin, Lo'mon LeHeritage 
('Lo'mon' is Samburu for news; Le Heritage means 'from Heritage') 

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