Crawshay's zebra (Equus quagga crawshayi)


Crawshay's zebra (Equus quagga crawshayi) is a subspecies of the plains zebra native to eastern Zambia, east of the Luangwa River. It occur throughout all habitats such as open woodlands and grasslands and are very much water-dependent.

Crawshay's zebras can be distinguished from other species of zebras because the stripes on their flanks meet on their bellies. They are social animals, living in permanent family groups composed of one male stallion, 1 to 6 females, and their young.

Zebras are herbivores that primarily graze on grass. They also occasionally browse on herbs, leaves and twigs.

When threatened by predators,  Crawshay's zebras emit a high-pitched alarm call of the repeating two syllables “kwa-hi”. Mares protect their young foal, while stallions defend their harem with powerful kicks, pushes, and by biting at predators.

During the night, at least one member of the harem remains awake hiding in tall grasses to guard and keep an eye open for nearby predators. 

Their striped black and white body patterns are also anti-predatory adaptations, providing camouflage under the strong light. The contrasting colours creates an optical illusion which confuses predators.

The pattern also discourages flies from landing on the zebra because insects have "compound eyes" that pick every single colour and can't find a landing angle for black and white. 

Each zebra has a very unique pattern of stripes, just as humans have their own unique fingerprints. 

Fun Fact: Zebras are actually black with white stripes!


Facts and pictures by Kelvin Zulu, Luangwa Wildlife Magazine photographer and expert safari guide. Article written by Mahina Perrot, Luangwa Wildlife Magazine editor-in-chief. Contributions (articles and/or pictures) are welcome and can be sent to info@luangwawildlife.com. For advertising enquiries, email us at advertising@luangwawildlife.com.