Burchell’s Zebra, Equus quagga burchellii

Burchell’s zebra (Equus quagga burchellii) is a subspecies of the plains zebra, and its range extends from the northwest from southern Botswana to Etosha and the Kaokoveld. Its southeastern range includes Swaziland and Kwazulu-Natal. This zebra has become extinct in the middle areas of its range, surviving in the southeastern and northwestern areas.

Burchell’s zebra, as with other zebras, have densely populated the plains of Africa. However, it was thought that by 1910 no wild populations of this zebra were left, and only one was known in captivity and had died in the Berlin Zoo in 1918. Europeans settlements spread from the Cape to Rhodesia, and it was thought that Burchell’s zebra had been hunted to extinction.

In a 2004 publication, Groves and Bell proved these beliefs wrong. They carefully studied the original populations of zebra in Swaziland and Zululand, as well as skins acquired from game farms in Zululand and Natal. Groves and Bell concluded that Burchell’s Zebra and Damara zebra (Equus quagga antiquorum), which are highly similar, are actually the same. They also concluded that the older name should prevail, and so the Damara Zebra became Burchell’s Zebra, and therefore, Burchell’s zebra populations still exist in Etosha and Kwazulu-Natal.

Image Caption: Zebras in Etosha-National Park in Namibia. Credit: Freddy Weber/Roger Zenner/Wikipedia