ZEBRA STRIPED PATTERNS

The striking black and white stripes of the zebra are used all over the world for textiles, ceramics, advertising, and for popular soft toys. I would have preferred this zebra-motif on a duvet if it was printed to run across the bed – perhaps the designer wanted to give the impression of zebras in the bed. If you look closely you will see two toy zebras peeping out.

The design is based on the common Burchell’s Zebra – this one is in the Addo Elephant National Park.

Another zebra we see here is the Cape Mountain Zebra, which has broader stripes. This one is in the Mountain Zebra National Park.

Here is a close view of the toy zebras peeping out of the bed.

A FOCUS ON ANIMAL EARS

The animals shown below were all photographed in the Addo Elephant National Park.

Cape buffalo

Their large drooping fringed ears hang down below the horns. They sometimes look torn, ragged, or scarred from fighting.

Elephant

The size of the ears of elephants helps to cool them down. They can act as a fan to move air over the body and also cool the blood as it circulates through the veins in the ears. Through careful observation one can learn to identify individual elephants by the nicks, notches, holes and missing bits caused by their travels through the bush.

Kudu

Kudu have an acute sense of hearing, thanks to their large round ears that alert them to danger.

Red hartebeest

White hair covers the inside of the long pointed ears of red hartebeest.

Warthog

The ears of the warthogs are prominently placed above their heads. They are leaf-shaped, with erect, slightly rounded tips.

Zebra

Zebras have large, rounded ears with lots of hair that helps to keep the dust out of them. It is interesting to note that the position of their ears can signal whether or not they are feeling calm or are alert to imminent danger in their vicinity.

ZEBRAS EATING

My first thought was to show you a few different zebras grazing on what looks like very dry grass to greener grass. Putting these photographs together, however, provides a marvellous opportunity to showcase just how different the facial markings between zebras can be.

This zebra has bold facial markings – and a dusty nose!

Note the very fine lines on this one – which also has a dusty nose.

The facial markings on this one are very bold – more stereotypical of the way zebras are depicted in children’s books.

This zebra has firm, clear lines – and much greener grass to eat!

WOODLANDS WATERHOLE

The Woodlands Waterhole is very close to the Main Camp in the Addo Elephant National Park. While it is not very big, it is always worth slowing down when approaching it for more often than not there is something interesting to see. We watched an encounter between a buffalo that had been wallowing in the muddy pool and an elephant arriving for a drink.

A warthog took advantage of a quiet moment to slake its thirst.

An elephant family took over the waterhole for a while.

Once they had ambled off, a herd of zebra that had been waiting patiently in the wings arrived for their share of the water.

This and other waterholes are artificial watering points within the park – all greatly sought after during this long drought.

THE DISTINCTIVE ZEBRA

There is no doubt that zebra are photogenic – I have a great number of photographs of them – for they are strikingly beautiful animals. I am particularly fascinated by the patterns on their faces as one can tell from these that, even though they might ‘all look the same’, there are indeed unique features about them. Zebra are often described as having patterns similar to our fingerprints; that no two zebra are exactly alike. I commented on a blog the other day that apparently the stripes on either side of a zebra are different. This is an observation I have read about but, as we usually only see one side of a zebra at a time, it is difficult to verify. Hunting through my collection, I came across a photograph of this zebra drinking at the Domkrag waterhole in the Addo Elephant National Park – an opportunity to see one from above.

The more I look at these two photographs, the more I appreciate how similar the stripe pattern is on both sides – until you actually follow the pattern closely. We seldom get the opportunity to do just that when we see zebra in the wild.

Zebras are distinctive. Their stripe patterns are an indication of just how distinctive they are – each one slightly different from the other.