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Photographer surprised by rare spotted zebra

A photographer could not believe his eyes when he snapped a rare spotted zebra foal in the wild in Kenya.

Freelance photographer Frank Liu, from Hong Kong, took the photogaphs in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya on 14 September while he was making a three-week trip.

“It was my third time visiting Maasai Mara and I’ve never seen anything like it before,” Mr Liu told H&H.

The unusual spotted youngster was photographed grazing among a herd of the traditional black and white zebras.

Zebras’ stripes are considered to have evolved in response to biting insects and research confirmed striped equids have a natural defence. A study carried out in the summers of 2016 and 2017 by Tim Caro, a professor of wildlife, fish and conservation biology at UC Davis, compared the behaviour of tabanids (horseflies) around both captive plains zebras and uniformly coloured domestic horses living at a yard in north Somerset.

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The results showed that although horse flies circled both horses and zebras at the same rate, fewer landed on the zebras. To understand more of the mechanism by which the stripes affected the flies, researchers analysed video footage, which showed that the insects approached the zebras faster and failed to decelerate before they made contact.

“Taken together, these findings indicate that, up close, striped surfaces prevented flies from making a controlled landing but did not influence tabanid behaviour at a distance,” said the authors of the study, which was published in Plus One on 20 February.

Mr Liu who previously worked in finance, has been working as a freelance photographer for two years focusing on wildlife and landscapes and hopes to offer photo safaris in 2020 in Kenya, Namibia and India. His work can be followed at @frankliuphotography on Instagram.

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