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Extinction Watch: Grevy’s zebras are social by nature

These are the largest of the threezebra species. Like their relatives, the plains zebras,Grevy’s zebras have distinct black and white stripes which are usually taller and narrower than plains zebras. This species also has the largest ears of any zebra, which, when combined with a long neck, contribute to a mule-like appearance.

As their ears rotate completely, Grévy’s zebras can hear sounds coming from all directions. Newborn foals are able to stand after just six minutes, and they can run after 40 minutes. In 1882, Menelik II, the emperor of Abyssinia, gifted one to the president of France, Jules Grévy, convinced of the regal nature of these animals. A French zoologist noted that the animal represented a species of zebra not yet known to European scientists and dubbed the lineage Equus grevyi in honour of his leader.

Grevy’s zebras are native to Ethiopia and northern Kenya. The species is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with about 2,500 adults in the wild. Both Ethiopia and Kenya have laws protecting the species.

Their habitats are badly degraded or lost entirely to livestock grazing. Grevy’s zebras are hunted for their meat, skins, and medicinal purposes.

Zebras are social animals and live together in large groups, called herds. As they migrate to new feeding grounds, ‘super herds’ may form consisting of thousands of individuals. They may team up with other grazers on their travels, too, such as antelope and wildebeest.

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