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The Story Of Wild Animals:
 Story Of The Armadillo

 Story Of The Lynx

 Story Of The Elephant

 Story Of The Leopard

 Story Of The Reindeer

 Story Of The Coyote

 Story Of The Wild Sheep

 Story Of The Mungoose

 Story Of The Zebra

 Story Of The Yak

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Story Of The Zebra

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

My first introduction to the zebra in his wild state was in the hilly country of Eastern Africa. The native hunters of my party wanted some zebra meat, of which they are extremely fond on account of the large amount of yellow fat it contains.

Saddling our best horses, we made an early start. It was ten o'clock, however, before we came in sight of our quarry. The herd comprised about fifty head and was grazing among a mixed herd of antelope and wild goats. A large antelope had been posted as a sentinel and gave warning of our approach. The shrill whistle of the antelope blended with the peculiar neigh of the zebras, which is a mixture of donkey notes and the subdued whining of a dog.

They started for the higher ground and we followed. At first they ran in single file, the stallions ahead, but as we urged our horses faster and drew closer they ran more in a bunch. At last one of the natives got a shot at a fine young filly and put a bullet in her body near the shoulder. She dropped to her knees, but was up again in a flash, and at once obeyed a rule in force among these animals by separating from the herd and running off at right angles. The natives pursued her, overtook her and shot her down.

That night they had a great feast. I tasted the zebra flesh, but found it unpalatable. I had shot two fine antelopes, and although I offered my men one of the carcasses, they declined it and ate the zebra instead.

The alternating yellowish-white and brown-black stripes of the zebra, which markings of the skin and hair are more pronounced than in any other of the wild animals, not excepting the tiger, give the name to the animal. Zebraed means banded, and the name is appropriate to the horse-tiger, as the zebra is sometimes called. The haunts of the animal in its natural state are among the mountainous and almost inaccessible regions of Southern and Eastern Africa. Shy by nature, and endowed with wonderful powers of sight, few zebras have been captured alive. The animal is rarely found alone, preferring to travel in large troops.

The three known species of zebra, together with the quagga, form a group agreeing in essential character with the asses, but distinguished by their more or less completely striped heads and bodies. In both these groups the mane is erect, and the upper part of the tail is free from long hairs; while there. are naked callosities on the fore limbs only, and the ears are longer, the head relatively larger, and the hoofs narrower than in the horse.

The true or mountain zebra is the typical representative of the striped group, and is essentially an inhabitant of hilly districts. It is the smallest of the three species, standing from 4 feet to 4 feet 2 inches (12 to I2 1/2 hands) at the withers, and has relatively long ears and a comparatively short mane, with the tail but scantily haired. The general ground-color of the hair is white, while the stripes are black, and the lower part of the face is light brown. With the exception of the tinder parts of the body and the inner sides of the thighs, the whole of the head, body and limbs, as well as the upper part of the tail, are striped.

All who have seen zebras in their native haunts speak of the beautiful appearance presented by a drove as they stand for a moment to gaze at the hunter, and then wheel round to seek safety in flight; and as they afford but unsatisfactory trophies, it seems a pity that so many are killed for the mere sake of sport. When standing on sandy ground in full moonlight, a zebra harmonizes so exactly with the color of its surroundings as to be quite invisible at a short distance.

It is very wild and suspicious, carefully placing sentinels, to look out for danger. Notwithstanding these precautions, several zebras have been taken alive, and some, in spite of their vicious habits, have been trained to draw a carriage. In all probability it might be domesticated like the ass, as the black cross on the back and shoulders of the latter animal prove the affinity between them. In the Transvaal there are many teams made up partly of zebras and partly of mules.

The quagga, so far as color is concerned, forms a connecting link between the zebras and the asses; but in its short ears, and the extent to which the tail is haired, approximates to the horse. In height it stands about the same as the true zebra; in color the upper parts are of a light reddish-brown, with the head, neck and front half of the body marked with irregular chocolate-brown stripes, gradually becoming fainter, until they are quite lost on the hind-quarters. There is a dark stripe running down the back on to the upper part of the tail; but the rest of the tail, together with the under-parts, the inner sides of the thighs, and the legs, are white.

Its actual habitat may be precisely defined as within Cape Colony, the Orange Free State, and Griqualand West. I do not find that it ever extended to Namaqualand and the Kalaharr Desert to the west, or beyond the Kei River, the ancient eastern limit of the Cape Colony to the east.

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