Original Research

Pre- and postnatal growth phenomena of Burchell's Zebra Equus Burchelli Antiquorum

G.L. Smuts
Koedoe | Vol 18, No 1 | a915 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v18i1.915 | © 1975 G.L. Smuts | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 July 1975 | Published: 29 July 1975

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G.L. Smuts,

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Between 1969 and 1972 growth data were collected from 175 zebra Equus burchelli antiquorum and 138 zebra embryos and foetuses from the Central District of the Kruger National Park, Republic of South Africa. Statistical analysis of data indicated no significant difference between body mass of adult stallions (range == 267,3 to 373,3 kg; mean = 318,5 kg; n = 57) and adult non-pregnant mares (range = 272,6 to

386,9 kg; mean = 321,6 kg; n = 51) (t = 0,587). The heaviest zebra had a body mass of 429,4 kilogram. This was a pregnant mare carrying a 35,2 kg foetus. Von Bertalanffy growth curves indicated that shoulder heights in young zebra may

reach the adult range by one year of age, the adult body mass range is, however, only attained after three years of age. These curves also showed that age classification of free roaming zebra is only reliable up to the age of about two

years, after which individual variation is too great. Stallions were significantly taller at the shoulder than mares (mean

= 1,8 cm) (t = 2,032) and neck thickness was the only body dimension showing visible sexual dimorphism in adults. Here the stallion had a neck girth on average 8,1 cm greater than the mare. Regression equations for estimating body mass from body dimensions were calculated by using a

standard logarithmic transformation and fitting a linear regression by the method of least squares and also by undertaking standard straight line linear regression analyses. Exponential curves obtained by the first method indicated that growth was not isometric (not linear) and that the ratios

of any of the dimensions of length to body mass were con-

stantly changing, i.e. growth is allometric. Marked allometric

growth differences existed between the two sexes except in the case of the heart girth-body mass relationship. Comparison of growth data from E. b. antiquorum with that of E. b. boehmi from Tanzania (Sachs 1967), indicates that E. b. antiquorum is considerably larger. Body masses differ by an average of 70 kg and 102 kg for stallions and mares respectively. Average birth mass for zebra was 33,7 kg. The largest foetus had a body mass of 39,0 kilogram. Foetal growth curves are provided. The first signs of body stripes occur at between 250 and 270 days of pregnancy (gestation period = 375 days).


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