Why are stripes boon to the zebras?

Zebra and its stripes

Zebra and its stripesZebra is a member of the horse family. But as compared to other members of this family stands apart because of its striped coat. Each animal has its own special pattern of stripes. Today we have three species of zebra that have survived over the ages. The most commonaly found is Equus Quagga- known either as the common zebra or as the plains zebra. It inhabits eastern and southern Africa-south of Ethiopia. The other species is Equus grevy which is found in Somalia. It is the largest of all zebra species and has numerous thin strips and very larg ears. The third surviving zebra species is called the mountain zebra or Equus zebra. It has numerous narrow strips ans found in the mountains of Namibia and Angola. At one time there existed a species called quagga which had stripes only on its head but is now extinct.

Since all the species have parallel black or brown stripes on white background, it is not off the mark to assume that the stripes must in some way be helpful for these grazing animals. Although a number of theories have been advanced to explain this phenomennon none gives a very convincing explantion. According to one theory the stripes create a ‘dazzle pattern’ and thus help the zebra to hide from its enemies by blending with the shadow sunlight patterns where it lives. Since lion is its main enemy this physical characteristic helps to protect it. Some other researches have suggested that the stripes are disruptive and create confusion in singling out an individual zebra when they are bunched together due to the overlapping of their outlines. This helps in protecting them as a lion finds it difficult to single out a potential victim. Zebra are grazing animals some roam around open grassy plains whereas others live in rough mountains. They usually live in small bands. They are noted fighters and it is difficult to tame or train them.

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