Mountain Zebra National Park, South Africa

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Mountain Zebra National Park

In the early 1930's the threat of extinction hung over the Cape Mountain Zebra. A few remaining in the Cradock District led to recommendations by the National Parks Board of Trustees for the proclamation of the Mountain Zebra National Park on July 1937.

Initially the park was small about 1712 hectares and the Mountain Zebra population in it comprised only five stallions and one mare. This tiny population failed to breed, and by 1950 only two old stallions remained.

Mr. H. J. Lombard, of the neighbouring farm Waterval, greatly enhanced the condition by giving the Park 11 zebras in trade for blesbok.

The rate of increase with in the zebras remained slow - by 1964 only 25 zebras were present in the Park. At this time several neighbouring farms were bought, bringing the park's size up to 6 536 ha. In the Rooiplaat section that was added, were 30 zebras which were protected by Mr. P.W. Michau and his two sons at a time when other farmers were shooting the zebras. From then on numbers increased rapidly and steadily and in 1975 five animals were relocated to the De Hoop Nature Reserve, the first Mountain Zebras to be established in regions where they occurred naturally in the past.

Today the Mountain Zebra National Park has become an wonderful preserve for the Cape mountain zebra. The park saved the zebras from extinction, and currently their population stands at over 350.

The park contains a rich diversity of plants and in spring the veld is covered with flowers. Fynbos flourish in the pleasant climate as the rains come mainly during early summer and winter.

The Cape Mountain Zebra differ from plains or Burchell's zebra, they have narrower stripes, no shadow stripes and there faces have an orange colour. Mountain reedbuck and grey rhebok are found on the higher pastures, the caracal is the main predator in the park, allowing the antelope and the zebras to flourish. Red hartebeest, eland, kudu and springbok are also found in the park and two of the park's more recent reintroductions are the African buffalo and the rare black rhino.

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