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melanistic zebra, Okavango Delta, Botswana
© Michael Fitt

Earlier this month Michael Fitt came across this newborn zebra in the north-western area of the Okavango Delta, in Vumbura Concession. The zebra has a rather unusual dark colour due to a small genetic abnormality linked to the amount of melanin affecting the pigmentation of the fur.

melanistic zebra, Okavango Delta, Botswana
© Michael Fitt

There have been at least three other dark zebras born like this in the area however none of them has reached more than six months old with the last foal born of this kind facing its demise to hyenas within a few months.

melanistic zebra, Okavango Delta, Botswana
© Michael Fitt

Unfortunately, if you stand out from the crowd, you are a target. Due to other abnormalities of this nature some scientist’s claim that zebra’s stripes are formed from the inhibition of melanin and that the “default” colour of a zebra is black. In other words, a zebra is black with white stripes.

melanistic zebra, Okavango Delta, Botswana
© Michael Fitt

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