Zebras and Giraffes. Samburu National Reserve
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Within the Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs Reserves, the Grevy zebras are one of the great zoological attractions. It is the hippotigris of the Roman circus, the most handsome zebra on the African continent, the one taking part in processions in imperial Rome between the years 211 and 217.
Today, three species of zebra exist. The most common, the one generally found in African parks, is the Grant zebra, which has several subspecies that are differentiated by minor variations in the skin colouring of the stripes.
This zebra is the most widespread of the three species and is spread throughout the whole of central and eastern Africa, but in the southern cone of Africa, it coexists with another more robust zebra, less graceful in appearance, whose characteristics are more reminiscent of a mule than a horse: the mountain zebra.
The mountain zebra shares its territory with the white-tailed gnu, another equally as rare and strange animal. It lives in the eastern South African mountains and is distinguished from its cousins by the horizontal stripes on its rump and a fold in its neck like a kind of double chin.
This zebra is larger that the Grant and mountain zebras. It has many more skin stripes which are much narrower and its ears are completely rounded.
Within the giraffa camaleopardalis species, eight subspecies can be differentiated in function of the design formed by their skin pigmentation and the way in which it is distributed. The majority of giraffes, such as these in the Etosha National Park in Namibia, have greater or lesser irregular pigmentation, but in the Samburu area, there is one which has a design that seems to be traced with drawing pen: the reticulated giraffe.
The reticulated giraffe is the most emblematic animal of the Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs Reserves. No other giraffe can compare to it in beauty and its skin, whose pigmentation darkens with age, is probably the result of evolutionary progression from more irregular designs.
The giraffe is the most commonly represented species in African cave paintings. It also appears in ancient Egyptian art and murals dating from 1500 BC. Horace and Pliny spoke of it in Rome and it even reached China in 1414, via Arabia, where its portrait was captured on silk. In spite of this, there are still very few people today who are aware that such a beautiful subspecies of giraffe as this exists among the giraffe family. And the reticulated giraffe, like Samburu as a whole, continues to be reserved for those who move away from traditional tourist circuits.