Coloured zebras

Zebras are fun to watch and I spent a significant amount of time watching this very common animal in Amboseli national park. They always present interesting questions. For example, in the herd of plains zebra (Equus quagga) that you can see in the featured photo, the youngest one has distinctly red stripes. This is just the red dust of Amboseli sticking to its fur. Why does it stick to the black stripes and not the white? No one seems to have asked this question, so here is my answer. It has been found that zebras can raise each stripe of the black fur, but not of the white. When dust bathing, animals like to get the dust in contact with skin, just as me like water to get in contact with our scalp when we have a shower. So a zebra would naturally raise its fur, if it can, while rolling in the dust. As a result, there will be more dust trapped in the black stripes than in the white. The end result is a red and white zebra. Quite a sight!

Foals look enchanting, whether of horses or of zebras. I followed the red and white zebra foal with my camera. Looking closer at its coat, one sees that there is red dust on the white fur too, but it looks like it sits on top of the fur. While reading about the fur of the zebra, I realized that the old question of why a zebra has stripes has not been settled. Could it be that the question is not really sensible? Isn’t it a little like asking what our hands are for? Are they for holding babies or holding guns?

By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.


  1. Fascinating topic from a “common” animal. Also, it seems like the grown ups are not as red as the young (less need to camouflage? ) Lovely photos at any rate!


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: