Plains Zebra

Equus quagga

The plains zebra (Equus quagga, formerly Equus burchelli), also known as the common zebra or Burchell's zebra, is the most common and geographically widespread species of zebra. It ranges from the south of Ethiopia through East Africa to as far south as Angola and eastern South Africa. The plains zebra remains common in game reserves, but is threatened by human activities such as hunting for its meat and hide, as well as competition with livestock and encroachment by farming on much of its habitat.

The Plains zebra and perhaps the mountain zebra belong to the subgenus Hippotigris, but Grévy's zebra is the sole species of subgenus Dolichohippus. The latter resembles an ass, while the former two are more horse-like. All three belong to the genus Equus along with other living equids. Recent phylogenetic evidence suggests that Grévy's zebras (and perhaps also mountain zebras) are with asses and donkeys in a separate lineage from the Plains zebra. In areas where Plains zebras are sympatric with Grévy's zebras, it is not unusual to find them in the same herds and fertile hybrids occur. In captivity, Plains zebras have been crossed with mountain zebras. The hybrid foals lacked a dewlap and resembled the plains zebra apart from their larger ears and their hindquarters pattern.

In 2004, C. P. Groves and C. H. Bell investigated the taxonomy of the zebra genus, Equus, subgenus Hippotigris. They published their research in the journal Mammalian Biology. They revised the subspecies of the plains zebra Equus quagga. Six subspecies are now recognizable.

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