Mountain Zebra Foal Born In Cape Point National Park
I read today with great interest that a Mountain Zebra foal was born in the park on Tuesday (19th July).
More accurately the new arrival is a Cape Mountain Zebra [Equus zebra zebra], one of two species of mountain zebras (the other being the Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra [Equus zebra hartmannea]). If you are ever confronted by one of each species you can tell them apart by the width of their stripes- Cape Mountain Zebras have thin white stripes with thicker black ones, and the Hartmann’s the opposite way around [of course, this doesn’t answer whether the Mountain Zebras are white with black stripes or black with white stripes!]
Typically a mountain zebra is smaller than a plains zebra, though not by all that much. The main difference is in their social behaviour, with Mountain Zebras being found in smaller herds, rather than the large extended herds of the plains zebra. Herds are made up of a dominant adult male, several females and their young. Bachelor males have their own groups and try to tempt mares away from their family groups.
It is the first Mountain Zebra to be born in the Cape Point National Park for 10 years!
Mountain zebras used to roam over the whole of the Southern African escarpment area but have been driven back by hunting into small pockets in the Northern Cape and areas of Namibia and Botswana. Although a very hardy animal, will suited to harsh conditions, their long term survival is hampered by not having overlapping areas for a healthy breeding population.
Efforts by organizations such as TMNP and SANParks are essential to the survival of the Mountain Zebra. It is currently listed as ‘vulnerable’ under the IUCN Red List. Hunted to near extinction there were less than 100 individuals by the 1930s. By 1998 estimates put the population at approximately 1,200, of which around 542 were in national parks, 491 in provincial nature reserves, and 165 in other reserves (basically none left in the wild). Due to massive conservation efforts numbers have recovered to around 2,700 animals, however, the long term future is still not clear. The animals are still hunted for their skins and as with rhinos anti poaching is coming off second best.
The Mountain Zebra Foal is a rare and valuable animal- please drive carefully in the Cape Point Nature Reserve
You should always drive with care in nature reserves, there is a speed limit (40kph in Cape Point Nature Reserve) and it is legally binding- I have seen speed traps on occasions. It always amazes me that so many people drive so manically in the reserves, what are you there for? If you wanted a track day go to Killarney Race Track!
The herd is currently close to the main road to Cape Point so you may get lucky and see the Mountain Zebras- your best bet is to look out for a whole host of TMNP vehicles and you know you can’t be far off.