Zebras primarily protect themselves with their great speed, powerful legs and large groups. Zebras are very fast animals that can run up to 35 miles per hour, and they have great stamina, which allows them to outlast predators they cannot easily outrun. Their powerful legs deliver devastating kicks, which can break a predator’s jaw.
Living in large herds provides great protection for zebras. These animals benefit from the eyes, ears and nostrils of other zebras in the group to alert them to the presence of predators. Sometimes, zebras even cavort with other species, such as baboons, to increase their chances for detecting predators in advance. Additionally, the black and white stripes of the zebra make it hard for predators to single out any individual animal.
Not all zebra species form large herds. Some only associate with other zebras during the breeding season. The males of some species form small harems that they protect from predators and trespassing males. Males will battle with each other to acquire reproductively active females, and such battles may involve kicking and biting.
Lions, hyenas, leopards and African hunting dogs are the primary predators of zebras, but crocodiles also eat them when they enter lakes or rivers.