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Figure 1.  Grevy's Zebra (Equus grevyi) is the largest species of wild horse in the world today.  It is a primitive zebra and may be the ancestral form from which all other zebras descended.

Grevy's Zebra is also of special interest because it preserves many of the characters of the earliest-known Equus species, Equus simplicidens, which inhabited North America during the Pliocene, three million years ago.  These characters include: a long skull with prominent occipital region, slender limbs, small hoofs and large body size (Skinner and Hibbard 1972; Kurtén and Anderson 1980).

Grevy's Zebra is found only in northeastern Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Kenya).  There it lives in subdesert environments, its habitat requirements positioned ecologically between the more arid deserts inhabited by the African wild ass (Equus asinus), and the more well-watered environments inhabited by the Plains Zebra (Equus quagga) (Bauer et al. 1994). 

In recent years, warfare has raged over much of the range of Grevy's Zebra.  Lawlessness accompanying these conflicts has consequently led to a rise in poaching and a decrease in this zebra's numbers.  Grevy's Zebra is an endangered species.

Photograph by Sybilla Poortman (The Netherlands).

 

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