Zebra infanticide plays out in Etosha (Warning: disturbing footage)

2017-02-20 06:31 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town - This footage will distort any placid view you might have had of these striped dazzlers of the bush.

The wildlife clip shared by Latest Sightings is rather disturbing and it had us doing a double take. 

According to Latest Sightings the clip was filmed by Daniel Tjärnén shows a male zebra intent on trying to kill a baby zebra in Etosha National Park, Namibia.  

 Tjärnén, who is a railway worker who captured the clip during a trip in 2015 describes the moment as once in a lifetime saying, "We were driving up to this waterhole, hoping to get some good sightings, mostly hoping to see some predators."

As with mother nature, trying to predict what you'll see in the bush is never easy.

"Instead we saw this group of zebras drinking,"says Tjärnén,"First it was a bit shocking. But then I thought it's the way of nature.

According to Tjärnén, some of the people with him reacted differently and wanted to help the zebra baby.

"The zebras disappeared further away behind the trees after a long chase."

Tjärnén speculates, "It probably wasn't his baby and felt threatened that it would grow up and take over. I think it survived for the time being, but it looked injured. Maybe it was chased off or killed later." 

'Infantacide common practise'

Sabi Sabi game ranger Richard de Gouveia explain this darker side of the Zebra, say it is largely due to one of the most iconic mammals in Africa's social structure.

Since 1979 Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, situated in the 65 000 hectare Sabi Sand Wildtuin of the Kruger National Park, has hosted visitors from all over the world, sharing the experiences of this wildlife oasis.

De Gouveia says the strange violence of what he calls the painted horse plays out to show "dominance in the harems". Made up of one dominant male who can have as many as 6 females and their foals in the group - yhe younger males with no harem would form bachelor herds and wait until they are big enough to start their own harem.

"Zebra stallions will fight with each other for females and will even go as far as stealing females from one another, "writes De Gouveia.

"If the female which is stolen is pregnant, the new male will rape her until such time as she has aborted the pregnancy. Abortion would be done by releasing hormones that would cause her body to reabsorb the foetus or miscarry or if she gave birth to a live foal it would be kicked to death by the male."

This would explain the seen in Etosha as featured by Latest Sightings, with De Gouveia saying, "It ensures that the strongest genetics survive and the killing of another males young is not uncommon practice in the animal kingdom."

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