Considering the fact that countless animals are heading towards the zone of extinction, there’s no wonder that people are getting concerned over zebras as well.
From an overall perspective, these animals are not in the red zone. However, some particular zebra species may be more threatened than the others.
Out of all the different species, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) states that the Grevy’s zebra is the most endangered.
For the zebra species in the world, many research and conservation bodies provide somewhat different population estimates. But before we can jump into the statistics, let’s take a closer look at this animal.
What are zebras?
These animals are also known as African equines, originating from the Hippogritis subgenus. There are three distinct species, namely, plain zebras, mountain zebras, and Grevy’s zebras.
Zebras are a type of single-hoofed animal indigenous to Africa. They are closely related to donkeys and horses, as they are all members of the Equus genus. The bold stripes on a zebra’s coat are its most distinguishing trait.
However, these animals are under threat due to a number of factors.
Conservation class of the zebra species
All three of the species have a varying level of endangerment. According to the IUCN, there are three distinct levels in the red list of animals at threat.
Typically, zebras are classified as Least Concern, although there are significant variances among the three species and subspecies, some of which are incredibly low, and one type, the Grevy’s zebra, is classified as Endangered.
The plains zebra is the most common of the three species today, although its numbers may be dwindling as well. Grevy’s zebra has one of the fastest population losses of any African animal, thanks in large part to public fascination in its striking coat.
The mountain zebra is in the vulnerable category because its numbers are small and vulnerable to extinction. The mountain zebra has a population of just 9,000 animals, in accordance with the IUCN.
Even though the Grevy’s zebras have a relatively stable population, their numbers are so low that they automatically fall in the endangered class. The IUCN has stated that its numbers are between 2000 and 2500.
Lastly, the plains zebra are thought to have a remaining population of around 750,000, making them the most common zebra species around the globe.
Factors leading to zebras’ endangerment
When it comes to the decreasing zebra numbers, there are multiple factors that are a cause for concern.
These animals are usually hunted for their meat and hide. Locals don’t pay attention to the dropping numbers as much as statistical organizations. Since many of these families rely on such zebras as a source of food, hunting is a common practice.
Other than that, tourists visiting Africa also like to participate in zebra hunts to add to their plethora of animal-hunting trophies. Zebras are dangerous to their predators.
Zebra coats are known to be extremely valuable. Due to this reason, some people exploit the animal’s beauty for money-making purposes.
Even though it’s against the law, these animals are illegally killed so they can be sold in the market in the form of animal products. This over-exploitation is leading to a rapid decline in zebras’ numbers.
The human population is continuously rising, even more so in Africa, which is the fastest growing population in the world. Alongside this growth is an increased demand for area.
Natural habitats are seldom destroyed, leaving behind zebras amongst other animals. Not only that, but people start using the area for their own food resources.
Additionally, droughts in the last few decades have led to habitat degradation, meaning the rivers are drier and grasslands are scarce. This has proved to be problematic as zebras main source of nutrition is grass.
Competition with livestock
The growing population has led to a proportionate increase in livestock numbers. In order to feed these animals, people use their occupied lands for grazing purposes.
This can have an inverse effect as there would be a greater number of animals in the same pasture land. As zebras have to compete with the increasing cattle for food and water, their numbers are bound to go down.
Predators can enhance the likelihood of zebra extinction as a result of major disruption by lowering the overall prey population and altering the ecological attributes of certain species such as habitat conditions, making the zebras more vulnerable to extinction. Read a guide Do Cheetahs Eat Zebras?
Prevention of zebra endangerment
You will be delighted to know that the animal rights authorities are aware of the situation and are taking much needed measures for saving the zebra population.
Most people just need to know the situation in order to take initiative over a good cause. Since animal organizations are hard at work on social media, the message is endlessly being spread, discouraging the purchase and usage of products made from zebra skin. This helps lower poaching rates.
Other than that, many educational bodies have taken it upon themselves to enlighten the public communities. Since they share habitats with the zebras, these people should know about the declining numbers.
As a result, it can lead to a stoppage of mistreatment of these animals. Not just that, but people also give the zebras a chance to feed off the grasslands alongside their livestock.
As habitat loss is the greatest factor of animal extinction, turning it around could have a considerably positive impact.
The grass can be restored through the re-establishment of particular abiotic and biotic elements to their past levels. Learn about What Do Zebras Eat?
As far as the water crisis is concerned, some local communities have started to make allocated water troughs. These collect large amounts of water throughout the year, which comes in handy for the wildlife during the drier months. There is legal assistance required to own zebras but make sure you know the cost of zebras.
There is no doubt that some zebras are more endangered as compared to the others. The Grevy’s zebra, in particular, has dangerously low numbers.
However, the responsible authorities have recently implemented the necessary measures, which should tip the scales and take the zebra population away from endangerment.