Uganda prides in having one of the most unique and special animals- the Zebra, no wonder Uganda is referred to as the “Pearl of Africa”. The best places to see Zebras in Uganda are Lake Mburo National Park and Kidepo Valley National Park. The Zebras are part of the horse family united by their distinctive black and white striped coats that come in different patterns unique to each individual, which helps foals to recognize their mother by the pattern of their stripes as well as by the call and scent.
Zebras are single hoofed, social animals that live in small or large herds. Bachelor males either live alone or with groups of other bachelors until they are old enough to challenge a breeding stallion. When attacked by predators, a zebra group will huddle together with the foals in the middle while the stallion tries to ward them off.
They sleep while standing up just like the horses and are found of grazing together which helps in their grooming process. Zebras feed almost entirely on grass but may occasionally eat shrubs, twigs, leaves, bark and herbs. They subsist on diets of lower nutritional quality than that necessary for other herbivores with the help of their digestive system.
Communication with each other is with high-pitched barks and whinnying. A zebra’s ears signify its mood for example; – When surveying an area for predators, zebras will stand in an alert posture with ears erect and head held high, as they stare. They will snort whenever they are tense and will bray or bark loudly when they spot or sense a predator.
Female zebras carry their young for a gestation period of 12 to 14 months. The foals have a brown and white color at birth and they are able to stand up and walk on their own just after they are born. The young feed on their mother’s milk throughout their first year. Zebras become fully mature at 3 to 6 years old and will have a lifespan of around 25 years. Whereas the female zebras mature earlier than the males, a mare may have her first foal by the age of 3 and the males are not able to breed until the age of 5 or 6.
Zebra can run up to 65km/h in a zigzagging motion and have an excellent stamina especially when they are trying to evade predators that chase them. When zebras are in a herd, their distinctive stripes merge into a big mass which makes it hard for the predators to single out individual animals despite the fact that they are poorly camouflaged. Although the pattern is visible during daytime, at dawn or in the evening when their predators are most active, zebras look indistinct and may confuse predators by distorting true distance. However their white and black color pattern helps them to withstand intense solar radiation.
Choose not to miss out on these fascinating, unique, beautiful and social animals on your tour to Uganda. Make it a point to visit Lake Mburo National Park or Kidepo Valley National Park, which are home to the Zebras in Uganda, you will get to learn more about their way of life and behavior as you take time off for a game drive in the park.