Mountain zebra conservation
Did you know?
A group of mountain zebras is called a dazzle, a zeal, or a crossing.
Cape mountain zebras are quite singular little beasts. Found only in South Africa, they are unmistakable: compact, with chocolate-orange muzzles and an intriguing grid-iron pattern on their backs.
Unlike the more common Burchell's subspecies, mountain zebras have stripes all the way down to their hocks. They also have a strange dewlap or wattle hanging below their necks, and outsize ears.
Appealing as they are, mountain zebra conservation almost failed. In the 1930s, the population dipped below 100 individuals. Stock farmers would kill them because they were considered something of a pest
Mountain zebra conservation truly started when authorities bought a few small farms near the Karoo town of Cradock, their last stronghold. In 1937, the Mountain Zebra National Park was proclaimed, on only 1 712 hectares of land.
All the land contained was 6 mountain zebras - 5 stallions and only 1 female. By 1950, the mare and 3 stallions had died. The conservation of mountain zebra seemed a lost cause. Fortunately a farmer living next to the park had another 11 mountain zebras on his farm, and he exchanged them with the park in return for a number of blesbok.
The population crept up slowly to 25 by 1964, which was when farmer Paul Michau sold his farm to the national park. He had protected another 30 mountain zebras on his land, and with this boost, the population started to climb steadily.
The first 5 mountain zebras were trans-located to De Hoop Nature Reserve in 1975 and from then on, they have been trans-located to other mountainous parks every year. They now number over a 1000, and this charming zebra species is a few steps back from the brink.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Mountain Zebra National Park
Tel: +27 (0) 48 881 2427