Zebra good for cattle grazing
Anyone who sees ‘ownerless’ male near Macleantown must contact SPCA
A young free-ranging zebra male that has been spotted grazing happily alongside cattle in the Macleantown area could potentially be beneficial to livestock.
The zebra, estimated to be between two and three years old, has been roaming from farm to farm in the past few months, but this week ventured onto the N6.
Concerns have been raised over the danger the animal poses to traffic, as well as its own well-being.
Residents and private game reserve farm staff have no idea where the zebra comes from, nor has anyone laid claim to it.
Local resident Maree Oosthuizen Lottering has appealed for the stallion to be darted or accommodated by one of the Stutterheim game farmers. On Friday, Lottering said she had again seen the zebra but it had moved away from the road and was now behind fencing.
King William’s Town SPCA spokesperson Annette Rademeyer said the organisation had still not been approached about the zebra, but encouraged residents to do so.
“If somebody does phone us about it, we will definitely act, either by getting a wildlife vet to dart it or relocating it.
“We would call nature conservation to place it in a nature reserve,” she said.
Meanwhile, the presence of the mysterious equid could be a boon for cattle during East London’s rainy season, which runs from October to April.
In 2011, ecologist Wilfred Odadi, a lecturer in the department of natural resources at Kenya’s Egerton University, and his co-authors, conducted research that showed that when zebra grazed alongside cattle in the rainy season, the cattle gained more weight. The reasoning is that because the grass grows faster and taller during the wet season, it soon goes “off”, making it unappetising to cattle.
The zebras then remove the dead stem grass, so the cattle are then left eating the more nutritious fresh shoots.
This results in greater weight gain for cattle.
It was a different story when it came to the dry season, however, when cattle and zebras competed over all available grass.
Speaking to the Dispatch via e-mail yesterday, Odadi said: “In addition, my other study published in Evolutionary Ecology Research  showed that cattle can also benefit zebras by reducing the gastrointestinal parasite burden for zebras.”
Odadi acknowledged that the extent to which his findings had actually influenced farmers to be more tolerant of zebras “remains to be determined”.
STRIPED HORSE: The zebra that is the talk of the Macleantown area, spotted behind fencing yesterday.