Fanfare as strange coloured zebra migrates from Kenya to Tanzania

02Oct 2019
Marc Nkwame
The Guardian
Fanfare as strange coloured zebra migrates from Kenya to Tanzania

JUST as the annual wildebeest migration flocks into Tanzania, the recently discovered, ‘black-and-spotted,’ zebra is reported to be currently in Serengeti National Park.

A number of local tour guides admit to have spotted the strangely coloured zebra in Serengeti. Christened, Tira the black zebra featuring white dots was discovered last month in Maasai Mara Game reserve of Kenya.

Among the tour guides that claimed to have seen the strange zebra in Serengeti, it was actually Aafeez Jivraj, working with Serengeti Mara Fly-Camps, who managed to capture pictures of the zebra.

Jivraj posted the photo of Tira in the ‘Tanzania for Wildlife,’ page on Facebook with captions; “The first picture has come in: Tira has been spotted close to Bologonja near Sand river,” he wrote.

As it happens, the credit for the zebra photo update was given to Goodluck Godson Kombe the Director of Overseas Adventure Travel. Ibrahim Musa a senior official at Tanzania National Parks and conservation advisor triumphantly circulated the discovery in other online platforms.

While zebras are known for their stripes, the reported young zebra calf was pictured with an all-black body with some white spots, becoming the latest sensation as fun as East African Wildlife reports are concerned.

When it was spotted in Maasai Mara recently, the principal researcher at the Arusha-based Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) Dr Edward Koyi, said they have contacted their Kenyan counterparts so that they trace and establish the authenticity of the strangely coloured zebra, admitting it was the first such incident to be recorded in the Serengeti eco-system.

The rare zebra calf was discovered two weeks ago by a tour guide   Antony Tira, working with Matira Bush Camp, at Maasai Mara, who also serves as freelance photographer.  

When he spotted the black dotted foal, photographer Tira initially thought it was purposely painted for migration oriented research, because at the moment, nearly 2 million wildebeests and zebras from Tanzania’s Serengeti happen to be in Maasai Mara.

“I was observing the park's game reserve near the Mara river, when I came across this young black zebra with white dots instead of stripes,” the tour guide cum photographer was quoted.

On closer inspection, most observers realised that the young foal - which remained close to its mother – possibly had a melanin disorder. Melanism - the opposite of albinism - is caused by a build-up of dark pigmented melanin in the skin.

The 2019 trip of the annual Serengeti wildebeests migration is currently combing the northern parts of the eco-system, especially Kenya’s Maasai Mara, and the nearly 1.5 million ungulates will be traversing back by October.