Monthly Archives: April 2017

Plains Zebra Facts

The plains zebra, also known as the common zebra, is the most abundant of three species of zebra, inhabiting the grasslands of eastern and southern Africa. The plains zebra remains common in game reserves (including Sibuya Game Reserve).

Habitat

Its habitat is generally but not exclusively treeless grasslands and savanna woodlands, both tropical and temperate. They generally avoid desert, dense rainforest and permanent wetlands, and rarely stray more than 30 kilometres from a water source. Predators of the zebra include lions, spotted hyenas, leopards, cheetahs and wild dogs.

Physical Description

Like all zebras, they are boldly striped in black and white, and no two individuals look exactly alike. They also have black or dark muzzles.

Function of the stripes

Perhaps the best explanation for the stripes is that they serve a social function.  Individual zebras can apparently recognize each other by their striping patterns.  The stripes may also serve as visual cues for grooming.  In addition, they could serve to help zebra groups stay together when they are fleeing.

zebra

Interactions with other grazers

Plains zebra herds will mix and migrate together along with other species such as wildebeests. Wildebeests and zebras generally coexist peacefully and will alert each other to predators. However, aggressive interactions occasionally occur.

Secretary Bird Facts

Endemic to Africa, it is usually found in the open grasslands and savannah of the sub-Saharan. Although a member of the order Accipitriformes, which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as kites, hawks, vultures, and harriers, it is given its own family, Sagittariidae.

It appears on the coats of arms of Sudan and South Africa.

Description

The secretary bird is instantly recognizable as a very large bird with an eagle-like body on crane-like legs which increases the bird’s height to as much as 1.3 m (4.3 ft) tall. This bird has an eagle-like head with a hooked bill, but has rounded wings.

From a distance or in flight it resembles a crane more than a bird of prey. The tail has two elongated central feathers that extend beyond the feet during flight, as well as long flat plumage creating a posterior crest.

Distribution and habitat

Secretary birds are endemic to Sub-Saharan Africa and are non-migratory, though they may follow food sources. Their range extends from Mauritania to Somalia and south to the Cape of Good Hope. These birds are also found at a variety of elevations, from the coastal plains to the highlands and occasionally spotted around Sibuya Game Reserve.

Secretary birds prefer open grasslands and savannas rather than forests and dense shrubbery which may impede their cursorial existence. While the birds roost on the local Acacia trees at night, they spend much of the day on the ground, returning to roosting sites just before dark.

secretary-birdStomping

Secretarybirds specialize in stomping their prey until the prey is killed or immobilized.  This method of hunting is commonly applied to lizards or snakes.

Diet

Prey may consist of insects, mammals ranging in size from mice to hares and mongoose, crabs, lizards, snakes, tortoises, young birds, bird eggs, and sometimes dead animals killed in grass or bush fires.