Equus zebra hartmannae (Hartmann's mountain zebra)

Hartmann zebra [English]; Hartmann se bergsebra, Hartmannbergkwagga, Damaralandse bergkwagga [Afrikaans]; Hartmann's Bergzebra [German]; zbre de montagne [French]; iduba Ie-Hartmann [isiNdebele]; idauwa, iqwarhashe [isiXhosa]; izebra laseqintabeni [isiZulu]; pitse ya naga [Sepedi]; qwaha ya thaba [Sesotho]; lidvuba [siSwati]; mangwa [Xitsonga]; mbidithavha [Tshivenda]; !Hom !goreb [Nama] [Damara]; ngorlo, hambarandu [Herero]; daou [Khoikhoi]; dou [San]

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Equus zebra hartmannae (Hartmann's mountain zebra) Equus zebra hartmannae (Hartmann's mountain zebra)

Equus zebra hartmannae (Hartmann's mountain zebra), Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]

Hartmann's mountain zebra. [photo Callie de Wet ]

Limited to the montane escarpment of Namibia, and extending marginally into south-western Angola.It is larger than the Cape mountain zebra, which is the other subspecies of Mountain zebra. Mountain zebras are best distinguished from Plains zebra by the fact that the stripes do not extend under the belly.


The Hartmann’s mountain zebra and Cape mountain zebra are the only two mountain zebra subspecies. Horse-like in appearance the Hartmann’s Mountain zebra is larger than the Cape Mountain zebra and smaller than the plains zebra. Although they resemble each other there are some differences. Typically the ground colour of the sleek coat is white with black stripes. The black stripes on the body are narrower than those on the rump and do not continue onto the belly, stopping abruptly on the lower side of the flanks. The underside is white. There is no shadow striping on the body. Diagnostic of the species is a grid-iron type pattern over the top of the tail formed by a series of transverse stripes. There is a narrow black stripe that runs along the mid line of the tail to the dark brown of black whisk. The stripes on the head are the narrowest. An erect mane runs along the top of the neck from ears to above the shoulders. The muzzle is black with russet-brown hair up the face over the nose area. The hooves are narrow and compact in shape with very hard ventral surface, this is an adaptation to the hard and rocky terrain. A dewlap is present under the throat, and is a diagnostic characteristic of the species.

Several theories have been proposed to try to explain the conspicuous black and white striping characteristic of the zebra coat. Earlier suggestions that the colouration functions as camouflage, confuses predators or deters flies have been discredited. Research suggests that the patterning may have a social function, as zebras appear to respond to its visual stimulation. It is thought that it stimulates mutual grooming in the preferred body areas, this will in turn facilitate bonding within groups.


Shoulder height 1.5 m; weight 250-350 kg.

Dental Formula

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Distribution and habitat

The montane escarpment of Namibia, and extending marginally into south-western Angola. It is closely confined to mountainous areas that provide suitable grasses for grazing and sufficient drinking water.

General behaviour

Mountain zebra are non- territorial and gregarious, living in breeding herds that consist of a breeding stallion with 3-4 mares and their foals. . Bachelor herds have a clear social hierarchy and may be joined by non-breeding fillies for brief periods. These zebra are diurnal with their most active periods being after dawn , later in the morning and then late afternoon. In the dry seasons Hartmann’s may collect in loose associations of up to 40 animals. When threatened the dominant mare in the herd will lead the others away to safety, the stallion remains at the rear to defend the herd if necessary. Vocalizations include a high-pitched alarm call from the stallion and a protracted squeal by a bachelor stallion when challenged by the herd stallion.


It is primarily a grazer but will browse when the quality of the grass supply declines.


The gestation period is about 360 days - i.e. close on a year. Foals are born throughout the year, but foaling peaks in summer during renewed vegetation growth. A single foal is born and is able to keep up with the herd within an hour of birth. It stays in close association with its mother for the first weeks of its life. Mares with new-born foals are aggressive towards other members in the herd and actively discourage contact between the foal and others. The foal remains with its mother until after the next sibling is born and then leaves the maternal herd. Fillies leave after about 19 months and colts after 2 years, they then join up with the bachelor herds. Fillies remain associated with a non-breeding bachelor herd for about 9 months and then join a breeding group herd, while colts remain with the bachelor group for long, an average of 2.5 years.

Life span

30 years (captivity)


The dramatic colouration of zebra coats makes the skins desirable to hunters and they compete with domestic stock for grazing in certain areas. There is very little evidence of hybridization between the two subspecies of mountain zebra, although this would be possible the natural distributions are geographically distinct and distant. However, with the translocation of animals by man this is regarded as a major genetic threat and all possible actions should be taken to prevent it in the future.

The Mountain zebra (both subspecies) is classified as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (see link below).



Text by Denise Hamerton

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