Conservation Efforts Contribute to the Rising Population of the Endangered Mountain Zebra

November 23, 2015 admin Uncategorized

Even though recent years have seen populations of the mountain zebra stabilise, the species is still considered to be endangered. As a renowned propagator for animal conservation, Nigerian businessman Tunde Folawiyo often posts about the protection of endangered species and will be all too aware of the threats still facing the mountain zebra in Africa.

Hartmann’s mountain zebra and the Cape mountain zebra make up the two subspecies of this animal. The pattern of black, dark brown and white stripes is unique to every individual zebra, and they can be distinguished from other species of zebra by the presence of a dewlap, a fold of skin on the throat of the animal. Generally found on slopes and plateaus in the mountainous areas of Namibia as well as western and southern South Africa, both types of zebra have been listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List since 2006. Some individuals may also be found in southwestern Angola.

The 19th and 20th centuries saw the mountain zebra come close to extinction, as hunters sought skins and hides, to make bags for carrying grain. The biggest threat to the animals outside of their natural predators – lions, cheetahs and wild dogs, among others – has been the conversion of their habitat into agricultural land. The mountain zebra has for years been seen as a nuisance animal, consuming valuable grasses and water intended for domestic livestock. As a result, farmers and ranchers moved to fence off their land, preventing animals from grazing and keeping them from accessing water sources. This contributes to increased competition among wildlife for already dwindling natural resources, and the rise of both legal and illegal culling.

However, efforts to restore the population of mountain zebras have been increasingly fruitful in recent years. The number of Cape mountain zebras has risen since the introduction of national parks and wildlife reserves, with a 2008 census suggesting a total of 1500 individuals, and despite large groups of Hartmann’s mountain zebras still being regular victims of poaching, the population was thought to be around 8000 mature animals in Namibia. National laws and international treaties also ban commercial trade of mountain zebras or products manufactured from their hides or other parts of the animal.

As natural populations survive successfully in conservation areas across Africa, it seems clear that more stringent measures against uncontrolled hunting and poaching, coupled with increased conservation efforts at local, national and international levels, should see the population of mountain zebras continue to stabilise.

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