Endangered Species Handbook

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Grasslands, Shrublands, Deserts

Drylands of the World: AFRICA: Page 6

     In neighboring Namibia, Europeans also exterminate native ungulates and predators in vast areas in order to make room for cattle and agriculture.  The wildlife of Namibia has declined almost as rapidly as that of the other two countries.  A few national parks, such as the Namib, have prevented total extinction for some species.  One of the largest protected areas, however, has been reduced to one-fourth its original size as a result of pressure from livestock owners. The Etosha Game Reserve of southern Namibia covered 38,427 square miles, equaling the Okavango Delta and Tanzania's Serengeti Plains, a region of great wildlife diversity and abundance (Simon 1995).  Although designated a national park, it covers only 8,598 square miles, the rest having been given over to livestock and agricultural interests (Simon 1995).  This park is a lifeline for the remaining wildlife, with waterholes even during the dry season that attract herds of Plains Zebra, wildebeest, hartebeest, Gemsbok, Kudu, Springbok, Giraffe and others (Simon 1995). In its dry woodlands, elephants graze.  During the 1990s, anthrax swept Ethosha, introduced by livestock, and 30 Cheetahs died, nearly the entire population in the reserve, along with elephants, zebra and other ungulates.
     The Mountain Zebra (Equus zebra), native to Angola and Namibia, was once abundant in the high country of the eastern Namib and deep into the desert as far west as the coast (Simon 1995).  Today, the species is listed as Endangered by the 2000 IUCN Red List Species.  Superbly adapted to the dry environment, this zebra scrapes holes in dry river beds, allowing water to seep in.  In this way, it creates waterholes for many other animals (Simon 1995).  The Hartmann's Mountain Zebra (Equus zebra hartmannae), a very large race of the Mountain Zebra, numbered an estimated 50,000 to 75,000 in the 1950s (Nowak 1999).  Competition with domestic livestock and persecution from farmers settling the region reduced them to only about 8,000 (Nowak 1999).   Listed as Threatened by the U.S. Endangered Species Act and on Appendix II of CITES, Hartmann's Mountain Zebras are still being illegally killed, with about 500 to 1,000 skins a year taken by poachers (Nowak 1991).  The Cape Mountain Zebra (Equus zebra zebra), the other race of Mountain Zebra, was originally common in the grassy highlands of Cape Province, South Africa.  European settlers killed these zebra indiscriminately, virtually wiping them out, along with many other species of ungulates. As early as 1742, these zebra were considered threatened and were given official protection (Kingdon 1997).   This hunting ban was ignored, however, reducing them to 11 animals, protected on the farm of Henry Lombard, who prevented their extinction (Kingdon 1997).  A 1937 census found only 45 Cape Mountain Zebra, although a few more persisted in remote mountain areas (Nowak 1991). The Mountain Zebra National Park was established to preserve them, and their numbers rose to 474 in the 1980s, half of which lived in the park (Nowak 1991).  They increased to about 700 in six reserves in the mid-1990s, all descended from seven females (Kingdon 1997).  This race is listed as Endangered by U.S. Endangered Species Act, the IUCN, and is on Appendix I of CITES. 

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