Between 1972 and 2001, the zebra population in Gorongosa National Park fell from more than 3,000 to less than 20 as most large animals were killed by poachers or soldiers fighting the Mozambique civil war. Fourteen Crawshay’s zebras (Equus quagga crawshayi) relocated to the park this year represent a hope for the future. Crawshay’s zebra are characterised by narrow stripes on a striking white background, extending complete and unbroken down to the hooves. Five or more stripes join the belly stripe, whereas in other subspecies they are nearly always fewer than five. Why zebras have stripes remains a mystery—even Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace disagreed. Recent evidence suggests that the stripes may deter biting flies such as tsetse flies and horseflies.
Image courtesy of Gorongosa Restoration Project, Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique.
Special thanks to Bridget Conneely, Digital Project Manager, Gorongosa National Park