Zebra Migration Record Set After Tagged Animals Trek 300 Miles

Image: Zebra Migration Record Set After Tagged Animals Trek 300 Miles

Wednesday, 28 May 2014 09:21 AM

By Michael Mullins

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A zebra migration record of more than 300 miles was set by a collared zebra recently after it was tracked by researchers moving between the southern African nations of Namibia and Botswana.

The research, which was published in the latest issue of the journal Oryx, was conducted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Namibia's Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), and the Botswana-based conservation organization Elephants Without Borders (EWB).

In total, eight adult Plains zebras had GPS collars humanely attached to their necks in 2012 so as to provide researchers with information as to the extent of their migration, which  would allow conservationists to better protect the animals, Discovery News reported. According to the research, the zebras made the 300 mile-plus trek two years in a row.

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"In order to fully understand whether we're doing a good job at conserving wide-ranging species like zebra, we need a detailed understanding of their space requirements and movement patterns," Robin Naidoo, senior conservation scientist at WWF and lead scientist in the study, said in a WWF press release.

"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," Naidoo added.

According to the WWF, researchers collared only female zebras for the study, because they were considered less likely to attempt to remove the collar during their migration as compared to their male counterparts. Researchers reportedly monitored the zebras' location every 4-5 hours during the journey.

"The findings of this study emphasize the importance of trans-frontier conservation areas in conservation of the greater landscape," Pierre Du Preez, chief conservation scientist at MET in Namibia, said in the WWF press release. "This study has played a crucial role in helping determine a crucial wildlife corridor in KAZA."

The region known as KAZA, or the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, is approximately 109 million acres or encapsulates territory between the African nations of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

"At a time when conservation news is inherently rather negative, the discovery of this unknown natural phenomenon should resonate with people around the world," EWB's Founder Mike Chase added in the press release. "The government's commitment to secure key migratory corridors serves to underpin the growing wildlife tourism industry. We plan to continue monitoring the migration to try and conserve such increasingly rare natural events."

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