Published: September 2003



Born to Roam

East Africa's plains zebras follow the rains in one of the greatest migratory shows on Earth.

By Jennifer Holland
Photograph by Anup and Manoj Shah

This article was originally published in the September 2003 National Geographic.

Perhaps it was a playful doodle by the Designer of Wild Things that led to the zebra: a horse in costume (candy wrapper? prison garb?) animating Africa's vast stage. Why the dizzying stripes, with no two coats quite the same? No one’s sure, but the pattern may repel insects or distort the animal’s outline in dim light, confusing predators. Celebrated for their epic migration of more than 300 miles, some 200,000 plains zebras follow the rain, sweeping clockwise through Tanzania into lusher Kenya in the dry season, then south again to foal on the storm-soaked Serengeti Plain.

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