The quagga (Equus quagga quagga) was a plains zebra that lived in South Africa until becoming extinct late in the 19th century. It was long thought to be a distinct species, but early genetic studies have supported it to being a subspecies of plains zebra. A more recent study suggested that it was merely the southernmost ecotype of the species. The name was derived from its call, which sounded like “kwa-ha-ha”.

The quagga is believed to have been around 257 cm (8 ft 5 in) long and 125–135 cm (4 ft 1 in–4 ft 5 in) tall at the shoulder. It was distinguished from other zebras by its limited pattern of primarily brown and white stripes, mainly on the front part of the body. The rear was brown and without stripes, and therefore more horse-like.

The Quagga dwelled in the grasslands of South Africa until it became extinct in the wild by the year 1878. It was heavily hunted by Dutch settlers who arrived and found it competing with domesticated animals for forage. The extinction of the species roots to overhunting by hunters who killed this herbivorous and harmless species to satisfy their lust for hunting. Moreover, as the Quagga was a plant-eating animal, they were also hunted by colonists, because they were considered as competitors for sheep, goats and other livestock. Another reason why the Quaggas were killed in huge numbers was that of its flesh which was consumed by farm laborers and also for the skin which was used in the leather industry. While the last Quagga (in the wild) died in 1878, the last captive one died in Amsterdam in 1883.

Image: Quagga mare at London Zoo, 1870, the only specimen photographed alive (Wikipedia)

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