Earn Your Stripes and Help Save the Zebra
Mar 21, 2021
Of the three species of zebra alive today, two currently face endangerment. One of them, the Grevy’s zebra, has experienced a devastating population decline of over 54% in just the last forty years. Currently, only around 2,800 of them roam Africa’s wilderness. The quagga, another of the zebra’s unique subspecies, has already been hunted into extinction. It is so important to save the zebra before it’s too late.
The key to helping Africa’s zebras overcome isn’t black and white—it will require a nuanced approach that accounts for each of the many challenges the animals face. According to leading conservation authorities, the following are the primary factors causing population declines among Africa’s zebras.
Overhunting and Game Trophies
The African continent is the only place on Earth where zebras run wild. Which is why it is so important to save the zebra. Known for their intricately patterned coats, these gorgeous animals have become prime targets for wild game hunters looking to add another trophy to their collection.
While many conservationists have called for a blanket ban on trophy hunting, the possibility proves economically difficult for the continent. In South Africa alone, overseas game hunters from wealthy countries bring in more than $744 million each year. And unfortunately, the zebra’s distinctive stripes have made it one of the most popular ‘trophies’ among sport hunters on safari holidays.
Habitat Destruction and Human Encroachment
As with the lion, elephant and rhino, habitat destruction and human encroachment are two of the biggest factors causing population decline among Africa’s zebras. As so-called “pioneer grazers” zebras prepare grasslands for other grazing animals by clearing away the rough shrubs, bark and leaves that are inedible to other species. This grazing practice makes them essential to Africa’s ecosystem as a whole—but it also means they require vast stretches of untouched wilderness to survive. And unfortunately, Africa’s wilderness areas are shrinking rapidly. It is crucial to save the zebra before it’s too late.
Pressed on all sides by industrial growth and agricultural expansion, zebra populations struggle to access adequate food and water. Some even starve to death. According to the African Wildlife Foundation, zebras will travel up to 1,800 miles in search of food. But agricultural expansion and land development have limited their movements, confining them to areas that can’t reasonably sustain them. Standard cattle and sheep fences, for example, keep zebras from moving between habitats, limiting their food and water supplies. As a result, entire herds often die of starvation.
Conservation Efforts—How You Can Help Save the Zebra
While the zebra as species is not currently classified as endangered, many of its subspecies are quickly approaching extinction. Even so, what we have with the zebra is the priceless opportunity to stop widespread endangerment before it happens. We can save the zebra before it needs saving. When it comes to conservation efforts, the most effective initiatives are always preventative. There’s no way to reverse extinction, but we can stop it before it has the chance to happen.
According to the African Wildlife Foundation, protecting Africa’s zebra populations requires promoting sustainable livestock management. Over the years, some organizations have sprung up to incentivize farmers to follow conservation practices which prevent habitat destruction and minimize agricultural encroachment. Others have worked to dedicate large swathes of land to wildlife conservation, linking key habitat areas in order to maximize grazing range.
The hard part? These measures are far from cheap. Across the board, Africa’s conservation movement is facing a financial crisis. That’s why we’ve stepped up and made it our mission to help. Each time you purchase a bottle of ADF hot sauces or spices, we pass a portion of the proceeds on to Africa’s leading wildlife conservation programs. We might not have the immediate solution, but we’re committed to doing our part.