[an error occurred while processing this directive]

More to Explore

Did You Know?
Related Links
NGS Resources

Zebras On Assignment

Zebras On Assignment

Step into the world of writers and photographers as they tell you about the best, worst, and quirkiest places and adventures they encountered in the field.

Zebras Zoom In

Get the facts behind the frame in this online-only gallery. Pick an image and see the photographer's technical notes.

Zebras Zoom In Thumbnail 1
Click to ZOOM IN >>

Zebras Zoom In Thumbnail 2
Click to ZOOM IN >>

Zebras Zoom In Thumbnail 3
Click to ZOOM IN >>

Zebras Zoom In Thumbnail 4
Click to ZOOM IN >>

Zebras Zoom In Thumbnail 5
Click to ZOOM IN >>

Zebras Map

The Great Migration

Map Thumbnail

Click to enlarge >>

By Jennifer Steinberg Holland
Photographs by Anup and Manoj Shah

They're born to roam: East Africa's plains zebras follow the rains in one of the greatest migratory shows on Earth.

Read this compelling excerpt, or print the whole story.

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.

* * * * * *

Anup Shah and his brother, Manoj, spent a year photographing these flamboyant cousins to the horse, finding a visual feast in the animals' giant herds and athletic strides. "With zebras," says Anup, "you just point the camera at the fantastic view."

E-mail this page to a friend



VIDEO Go behind the scenes into the world of migrating zebras with photographer Anup Shah.

RealPlayer  WinMedia
RealPlayer Broadband

Final Edit

Rescued from the cutting room floor is this month's Final Edit, an image of a crocodile standing guard over its striped prey.

More to Explore

In More to Explore the National Geographic magazine team shares some of its best sources and other information. Special thanks to the Research Division.

Did You Know?
African habitat and mesmerizing striped hides are two things that the three zebra species have in common—but their differences add to their fascination. The grassland-loving plains zebra, familiar in its horse-like appearance, has wide black-and-white alternating stripes completely covering its body. Dwelling in the semidesert areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, Grevy's zebra is the tallest and longest of the species, with big, comical-looking rounded, furry ears atop a large head. This animal's striking coat has narrow, evenly spaced stripes and a white belly, a feature shared with the mountain zebra, the third type. That species, small and stocky, is distinguished by long, tapered ears that stick out to the sides of its head, a flap of skin under its throat called a dewlap, and hard, pointed hooves for navigating steep terrain in the continent's southwest.

Another common element in the zebras' existence is humans; while people are zebras' biggest threat, they are also key to survival. Trophy hunting, poaching, human settlement, and competition for scarce water resources all menace the three zebra species. The endangered mountain zebra has suffered a population decline of some 50 percent over ten years but is successfully being protected in sanctuaries such as South Africa's Mountain Zebra National Park.

The expansion of livestock farming in Kenya has encroached on the endangered Grevy's zebra's range and hampered its reproductive success, but the species is being helped by a hunting ban there. The plains zebra population in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem of Kenya and Tanzania is healthy and stable, and over two-thirds of that species' numbers reside in those two countries, where tens of thousands roam the savannas.

—Nancie Majkowski

Did You Know?

Related Links
Serengeti National Park
Zoologist Markus Borner provides an overview of Serengeti life and recalls the groundbreaking research done in the 1950s by conservation pioneers Bernhard and Michael Grzimek.

Wild Watch: African Wildlife and Conservation
Watch an animated feature on the Mara-Serengeti migration cycle and read ranger reports on wildlife sightings on Conservation Corporation Africa's "The Greatest Show on Earth" Web feature.

General Tour of the Serengeti National Park
Professor Samuel J. McNaugton of Syracuse University has created a five-stop virtual Serengeti tour, with detailed information about all aspects of this magnificent ecosystem.


Estes, Richard D. The Safari Companion. Chelsea Green, 1993.

Hack, Mace A., and Daniel I. Rubenstein. "Zebra Zones," Natural History (March 1998), 26-33.

Klingel, Hans. "Horses," In Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Animals, Vol. 4. McGraw-Hill, 1990.

Macdonald, David, ed. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Barnes and Noble, 2001.

Mari, Carlo, and Harvey Croze. Serengeti's Great Migration. Abbeville Press, 2000.

Moehlman, Patricia D., ed. Equids: Zebras, Asses, and Horses: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/Equid Specialist Group, 2002.

Ruxton, Graeme D. "The Possible Benefits of Striped Coat Coloration for Zebra," Mammal Review (vol. 32, no. 4, 2002), 237-44.

Sinclair, A.R.E., and Peter Arcese. Serengeti II: Dynamics, Management, and Conservation of an Ecosystem. University of Chicago Press, 1995.

Wolanski, Eric, and others. "Water, Migration, and the Serengeti Ecosystem," American Scientist (November-December 1999), 526-33.


NGS Resources
Thompson, Gare. On Safari. National Geographic Books, 2002.

Defreitas, Michael. "Good Migrations," National Geographic Traveler (May/June 2002), 22.

Reader, John. Africa. National Geographic Books, 2001.

Leakey, Richard E. "Serengeti," National Geographic Traveler (October 1999), 72-6.

"Zebra Watch," National Geographic World (July 1988), 4-7.


© 2005 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy       Advertising Opportunities       Masthead

National Geographic Magazine Home Contact Us Forums Shop Subscribe