The Burchell's zebra is a southern subspecies of the Plains Zebra.
Burchell's Zebra is a large land mammal
with an off-white coloring, but never pure white. The shadow stripes are usually well marked, and the leg stripes are absent or poor, and almost never complete to hooves.
Formerly the Burchell's zebra ranged north of the Vaal/Orange river system, extending northwest via southern Botswana
and the Kaokoveld
, southeast to Swaziland
. Now extinct in the middle portion, but surviving at the northwestern and southeastern end of the distribution.
Like other plain zebras, Burchell's Zebras must have populated the African
plains in impressive numbers. Associations of thousands have been reported. The wild herds were thought to have disappeared by 1910, and the last known captive individual died in the Berlin Zoo
in 1918. As European
settlement spread northward from the Cape to colonial Southern Rhodesia
, this subspecies was thought to have been hunted to extinction
However Groves and Bell concluded in their 2004 publication that "the extinct true Burchell's zebra" is a phantom. Careful study of the original zebra populations in Zululand and Swaziland, and of skins harvested on game farms in Zululand and Natal, has revealed that a small certain proportion shows similarity to what now is regarded as typical "burchellii". The type localities of the subspecies Equus quagga burchellii and Equus quagga antiquorum (Damara Zebra) are so close to each other that the two are in fact one, and that therefore the older of the two names should take precedence over the younger. They therefore say that the correct name for the southernmost subspecies must be burchellii not antiquorum. The subspecies Equus quagga burchellii still exists in Kwazulu-Natal and in Etosha
- Duncan, P. (ed.). 1992. Zebras, Asses, and Horses: an Action Plan for the Conservation of Wild Equids. IUCN/SSC Equid Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.
- Groves, C.P. & Bell, H.B. 2004. New investigations on the taxonomy of the zebras genus Equus, subgenus Hippotigris. Mammalian Biology. 69: 182-196.
- Maas, P. 2005. Burchell's Zebra - Equus quagga burchellii. The Extinction Website Downloaded on 21 January 2006.
- Moelman, P.D. 2002. Equids. Zebras, Assess and Horses. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Equid Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. (http://www.iucn.org/themes/ssc/pubs/sscaps.htm#Equids2002)