The Zebra symbolises freedom, balance and individualism
Today is International Zebra day. It’s a day to create awareness around the need to protect the beloved Zebra, one of the most iconic grazing animals of Africa. On this special day, I want to highlight the individualism of Zebras as they are such unique animals. There is nothing like them.
The majority of animals and insects of the African bushveld utilizes neutral colours to blend in and camouflage extremely well. A few use bright colours called aposematic colouration to show that they are toxic and that it is not a good idea to try and consume them.
Zebras have black and white stripes covering the body and legs that make them stand out and easy to spot among the green grass, well for us humans at least.
A lot of animals in the wild are colourblind. This does not necessarily mean that they only see black and white it simply means that there are colours that they can see and some colours they cannot.
The stripes aid the Zebra in breaking the outline of its body making it possible to disappear amongst the grass and trees in their natural habitat. When a dazzle of Zebra stands together the stripes allow them to blend in with one another causing them to appear as one unit confusing predators.
Another interesting fact about Zebras is that they can fall asleep standing up as they have locking joints. This ensures they can escape quickly if predators are about.
Apart from the fact that their stripes are a great form of camouflage, it is also a fantastic way to control the Zebras body temperature. With the white stripes being cooler and the black stripes warmer it creates turbulence on the surface of the Zebras skin, regulating the body temperature. They erect the hair in the black stripes, releasing extra heat during the time of day which is the hottest.
The stripes of a Zebra is also a fantastic way of identifying each other as every zebra’s stripes are unique like a fingerprint. There are no two zebras that are the same!
However, don’t be fooled by their seemingly passive nature. As elegant and peaceful as they appear, zebras can be aggressive animals, too! Stallions will fight for females with sharp bites or powerful kicks strong enough to cause serious damage – and sometimes even kill!
There is nothing like seeing a dazzle of Zebra running wild and free across the plains on Kapama Game Reserve while out on safari with guests. It’s wonderful to know that these unique striped animals are being preserved and can thrive in their natural environment.
Story by: Kapama River Lodge Ranger – Rassie Jacobs