This equid is the “special” of Mountain Zebra National Park (MZNP), having been the reason for the proclamation of the Park in 1937, as well as a very important founder population for many Cape mountain zebra herds found in other national parks, reserves and private game farms today. MZNP has the largest population of these zebra on earth. The 2016 count of Cape mountain zebra in the Park numbered just over 1 000.
Interestingly, they are one of the few large mammals that show a distinct altitudinal migration between summer and winter. In summer, they can be seen in small to medium sized family groups (two to twenty) on the flatter areas around the Park and move onto the steeper slopes during winter.
Ever the alert animals, stallions show a lot of interest in vehicles moving past and will often issue a warning call to the rest of the herd. If the perceived threat is not to the stallions liking, he often positions himself between the threat and the herd. Zebra have a harem system with a stallion having tenure over a number of mares for a couple of years. They can aggregate in larger numbers around water but will break up into their family groups as they move away. They are well spread throughout the Park but good areas are along the Main road, Rooiplaat and Ubejane Loops and along the link road. They can be seen anytime during the day.
Although you might not think that the bold stripes will blend into the Karoo grassland environment, you will be surprised at just how camouflaged they are. Look for their white bellies against the hills. They like to take dust baths to rid themselves of ticks and often bite or kick one another. Zebras are active animals and spend most the day and night feeding, but they can be seen sleeping in the sun during the morning especially on colder days.
Although all zebra seem to look alike not one of them have identical stripe patterns. Like human fingerprints, each zebra has a different stripe print making them completely unique. Zebra are naturally noisy and communicate using a variety of calls. They know there is safety in numbers and therefore live in herds of approximately 20 individuals, with a male zebra leading the herd.