Zebras take prize for longest terrestrial large mammal migration in Africa

BY Justin Scuiletti  May 27, 2014 at 6:22 PM EDT

Burchell's zebra. Photo by Wikimedia user Yathin S Krishnappa

Burchell’s zebra. Photo by Wikimedia user Yathin S Krishnappa

What’s black and white and holds the new record for large mammal land migrations in Africa?

Eight collared adult female Burchell’s zebras were observed making a straight-line, 300-mile round trip trek from Namibia to Botswana in 2012 and 2013 — the largest ever migration witnessed for large terrestrial mammals in Africa. The findings, published in the journal Oryx Tuesday, state that the “previously unknown multi-country migration” breaks the previous record set by wildebeest.

“The distance covered by these zebra was a total shock to all of us involved in the study, as well as to people familiar with wildlife conservation in the region,” lead author Robin and World Wildlife Fund senior conservation scientist told National Geographic. “Nobody knew that something of this scale, with this much ground covered, was occurring. ”

The observation, the study writes, merits conservation attention as many animal migrations in the region are declining due to land transformations and human-related changes.