ETUSIS Foundation


The Hartmann's Mountain Zebra has its habitat mainly in Namibia, Angola and South Africa. National and private game reserves in Namibia and South Africa are home to part of the species, particularly the Namib Naukluft Park and parts of the Etosha Pan, where it lives in competition with other zebras and where the danger of transmission of diseases is significant. Namibian farmlands, however, are an ideal habitat, mainly due to the vast sizes of the farms and the possibility to migrate across large areas. That is the reason why nowadays Namibia has the largest population of the Hartmann's Mountain Zebra in the world. Unfortunately the Hartmann's Mountain Zebra is anything but popular with livestock farmers, since the zebras are seen as competitors for grazing which has become particularly scarce in many parts of Namibia where very little rainfall has occurred for several years.

Therefore more and more Hartmann's Mountain Zebras are culled legally or illegally or are disposed of by other means, which leads to inadequate density and distribution of these animals. Furthermore the available habitat of the Hartmann's Mountain Zebra is rapidly dwindling - due to the increase and spread of the human population. Increase in tourism, for example in the Kaokoveld, poses an additional problem for the zebras. The number of game farms is growing, and subsequently game-proof fencing for game viewing and hunting purposes is constructed. On many of these farms the Hartmann's Mountain Zebra is not welcome since hunting of that species is restricted, and the zebra doesn’t hold a great attraction for hunters, who tend to prefer the more exotic antelopes. Due to the ongoing impoverishment of certain groups within the human population, poaching has increased rapidly over the last few years, and since the zebra offers a relatively large amount of meat, it has become a preferred target of the poachers and is often shot or caught in traps, pits and most commonly in snares. As a consequence of the war, the Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra may by now be extinct in Angola. It was hunted for its meat by soldiers and civilians alike. Fortunately there are ways to avoid grazing competition between the Hartmann's Mountain Zebra and livestock on farms. Electrical fences are an option for relatively small areas. Livestock herding by humans is often a better alternative, as wild animals are naturally afraid of people, especially if accompanied by sheepdogs. Wild animals will try and avoid humans if they have not been habituated to human presence. Areas where wildlife has been protected for long periods may constitute an exception.

Goals of the ETUSIS Foundation

The main goal of the foundation is to achieve short, medium and long term objectives for the protection of the Hartmann's Mountain Zebra, especially in farming areas or regions used by tourism.
This can be achieved by:

•    educating farmers
•    creating reserves
•    assistance to the farmers so that excessive hunting will come to an end
•    cooperation with zoological gardens, universities and other organizations whose goals are similar to ours
•    furthermore, the rearing of deserted foals and their rehabilitation into the wilderness
•    assisting official monitoring activities and programmes
•    educating children and youngsters (these often being future farmers) as well as the general public and state institutions.

The ETUSIS Foundation is fostering a number of orphaned zebra foals, and we are constantly involved in researching diets and their effects. We have also been involved in feeding trials with scientifically balanced diets for our foals with careful monitoring over a period of time. Our data is constantly revised so that it can be used as reference by others who find orphaned foals and to contribute to the health and well-being of captive Hartmann's Mountain Zebras not only in Namibia but wherever possible.
Population ecology of Hartmann’s mountain zebra
PI: Prof. L.M. Gosling
Mountain Zebra Project, c/o Namibia Nature Foundation, Windhoek, Namibia.

Should you wish to help the ETUSIS Foundation, please send your donations to the foundation.
Hans Klingel about the social organization and behaviour patterns of Hartmann- and Mountain Zebras (Equus zebra Hartmann and E.z.zebra):

(Achim Winkler & Jaroslav Zima)

Why does a zebra have stripes?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions, and there are a number of answers – none of which has been fully proved by science. But we would like to share some of the most common hypothesis’:
Possibly the puzzling mix of black and white stripes confuses and distracts predators.
The stripes help recognition among the different sub-species: Different kinds of zebras have different stripe patterns.
Identification of the individual: Since bodily and facial stripes are different for every member of a group, this may help to recognize individuals.

Stripes help foals to identify their mothers. Especially when viewed from the rear, there is a great difference between individual patterns. And since foals mostly walk behind their mothers, the stripes allow them to stay with the right mare.
Stripe pattern strengthen the bonds between group members.
Stripe patterns protect zebras from bothersome insects which might transmit diseases, since insects tend to avoid landing on surfaces with confusing patterns.
The stripes are a kind of cooling system, since the black and white surfaces retain the heat of the sun in different ways, which leads to tiny currents of air gently wafting around the animal.
The black and white patterns might be conspicuous at first sight, but they are also good camouflage. Small groups of zebras are often hard to spot within their natural habitat – as long as they are standing still.
There may be other explanations, but as mentioned above, none of them have been scientifically proved, but all of them are being contested in one way or another. Of course, there is a possibility that several of those theories apply at the same time.

Suffice it to say, there is still a great number of unexplained mysteries in the animal kingdom, and many of those puzzles are randomly solved when we least expect it. If this happens with the stripes of the zebra, we will strive to publish the findings immediately!

Recent research has proved that the Hartman Mountain Zebra and the South African Cape (Mountain) Zebra are genetically identical. Thus they belong to the same sub-species instead of two different ones.

The South African Mountain Zebra is slightly smaller, but this fact can be attributed to long-term exposure to difficult conditions such as scarce grazing, a rough climate and the like.