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Vicuñas are the smallest members of the camelidae family. They are the only camel species that need daily access to water, and this is why they are generally found not far from sources of water in their distribution area. Vicuñas and Guanacos are wild animals, while the other two members of the camelidae family, the llama and the alpaca, were domesticated by humans.
Their fur is soft and silky, especially in the chest area, and in South America, only Incan nobles and members of the royal family were permitted to wear clothes made of vicuña fur. In the past, vicuñas were captured in their natural habitats, shorn, and released back into the wild. When the Europeans arrived in South America, vicuñas were hunted almost to extinction, but today, the vicuña population has recovered after being declared a protected species.
photo: Ihab Ghadallah
photo: Shai Ben Ami
photo: Ihab Ghadallah
At night, zebras stay in areas with low grass. One zebra remains awake to keep watch for predators, which conceal themselves in the high grass.
In the past, the common zebra had a greater range. Today, they can be found chiefly in protected areas, such as parks or nature reserves.
Reproducing males do not allow other males to mate with their females. They protect the family from predators by biting and kicking. It is well-known that zebras can kill hyenas by kicking.
A male can discover a female’s ovulation stage by smelling her urine. The zebra’s gestation period lasts for about a year. At the end of this period, a single foal, weighing about 30 kilograms, is born. Birthing periods are spread over the course of the entire year, but most births occur at the beginning of the rainy season, in December and January. Newborns can stand on their own after 15 minutes, and after an hour, they begin to nurse. The mother keeps the other members of the group and her previous offspring at a distance from herself and the foal for a few days. Afterwards, social links begin to form between the foal and the members of the group. The foal is protected by the herd, and is generally located at its center. However, the percentage of younger zebras that are hunted by spotted hyenas and lions is high, even though the mother zebra actively protects her young. The foal nurses until the age of about a year. At three years old, a zebra reaches sexual maturity, but a male zebra may be prevented from approaching a group of females for mating until he is six years old, or even older.
Who knows why zebras wear pajamas?
Zebras have always been particularly captivating animals thanks to the unique pattern of stripes on their bodies. There are several theories that try to explain this phenomenon, but researchers have yet to fully agree. Here are a few theories:
The accepted theory is that zebras have stripes that act as camouflage against predators like lions and wolves. During a pursuit, the stripes make it hard for predators to make out individual zebras within a stampeding herd.
Zebras are very discernable in the open grassy fields of the savannah during the daytime, but they are well camouflaged in the bushes at dawn and dusk, when predators are more active.
Every zebra species has its own pattern of stripes, and this allows members of a species to identify other members.
Every zebra has a unique stripe pattern that allows foals to identify their mothers within large herds.
The tsetse flies, which live in the African savannahs, transfer parasites, and can be dangerous for ungulates (hoofed animals). One existing theory is that this fly can’t tell that zebras are animals, so it doesn’t sting them.
Name: Common (Grant’s) Zebra
Scientific Name: Equus quagga burchellii
Global Conservation Status: Least Concern (LC)
In Israel: -
At the Zoo: a small herd can be found in the African Savannah.
In the Bible: -
Habitat and Distribution: In African savannahs (open fields of low grasses) The zebra can be found in southern and central Africa, and ranges from southern Ethiopia in the north, to eastern South Africa in the south. At one point, the zebra has spread as far west as Angola.
Body Structure: Body length – 200-230 centimeters. Height (at the shoulders) – 130 centimeters. Weight – 350 kilograms. Zebras have black and white stripes that span the length of their bodies (the stripes can sometimes be brown and white, as well). Each individual zebra has a unique stripe pattern, just like the fingerprints of humans. Males and females are nearly identical. Males generally have a wider neck than females.
Diet: herbivore. Feeds mainly on grass. Zebras migrate throughout their lives from place to place, in search of food. Zebras graze. They eat over 50 different species of grass. Sometimes, they will even eat herbs, leaves and branches. They use their lips to push vegetation between their incisors, which they then use to “slice” them. The plants are crushed between the zebras’ strong jaws, which move from side to side, and from front to back. They prefer new grass, such as grass that grew after a brushfire.
Social Structure: Common zebras are social animals. They live in permanent family groups, composed of one reproducing male and several females with their foals. At the head of the herd is a strong adult male, who leads the herd. Often, zebra herds migrate to areas where herds of gnu and antelope graze on the same food. A hierarchy exists among the females of the group. The first female to mate with the male dominate the group, and the last female to mate is at the bottom of the hierarchy. The size of the herd can vary according to the type of habitat. One of the adult females (usually the eldest) plays the important role of leading the family through grazing land in an effort to stay close to drinkable water. Many families can join to form a herd. Single males live in non-familial groups, or alone.
Activity cycle: diurnal
Threats in the wild: Hunting, competition with domesticated animals.