Zebra's Hoof it 311 Miles in Africa's Largest Terrestrial Migration
A population of zebras has just secured the number one spot as Africa's longest terrestrial wildlife migration, hoofing it more than 300 miles (500 kilometers) round-trip between Namibia and Botswana.
Researchers from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) in Namibia made the discovery using GPS collars attached to eight adult Plain zebra (Equus quagga). Published in the latest issue of the journal Oryx, this revelation provides compelling evidence that conservation efforts often require multi-national coordinated support, Discovery News reported.
"This unexpected discovery of endurance in an age dominated by humans, where we think we know most everything about the natural world, underscores the importance of continued science and research for conservation," Dr. Robin Naidoo, a WWF senior conservation scientist, said in a statement.
For two consecutive years researchers tracked the zebras' movements back and forth between the floodplains of the Chobe River in Namibia and the grasslands of Botswana's Nxai Pan National Park, a straight-line total distance of 311 miles, the equivalent of walking from San Diego to San Francisco.
The discovery comes at a time when migrations of a diverse range of species around the world are increasingly imperiled, losing their freedom to roam. Zebra migrations in other parts of Africa have been disrupted by physical barriers such as fences, while other wildlife suffer from habitat loss and poaching.
Namibia and four other countries - Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana - allow wildlife to migrate across their boundaries through the incredible basins of the Kavango and Zambezi Rivers. The observed migration takes place entirely within the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) - the world's largest multi-country conservation area. Spanning 109 million acres across these African countries, KAZA exemplifies the kind of large landscape conservation approach that will be necessary to preserve the world's remaining great terrestrial migrations.
"The findings of this study emphasize the importance of trans-frontier conservation areas in conservation of the greater landscape" said Pierre Du Preez, Chief Conservation Scientist at MET in Namibia.