Equus quagga quagga

Last individual of this species in the wild was killed in the 1870s. The last captive individual died in 1883 at the Amsterdam Zoo.

The World’s Wild Horses

The following is a textual transcription of the quagga account in the book “The Annihilation of Nature: human extinction of birds and mammals” by Ceballos et al (2015, John Hopkins Press, Baltimore). Available at John Hopkin’s Press and Amazon.

Another horse species, the quagga (Equus quagga quagga), also became extinct in the nineteenth century. Some biologists considered it to be a full-fledged species and others a subspecies of the plains zebra. Quaggas were found exclusively in southern South Africa. They had a very distinctive color pattern, with almost no black stripes on the posterior part of the body; their stripes were only visible on the head and neck. Quaggas were hunted to extinction in the nineteenth century, as were the populations of many other animals in South Africa. The last wild quagga was killed in 1879, and the last individual in captivity died in 1883. There are a few complete specimens on display in some natural history museums--more sad reminders of a species that did not survive long enough to see the birth of the conservation ethic.


These equines were distributed only in a small portion of Africa. Records reveal they lived only in a few provinces of South Africa in the state of Karoo and their preferred habitat was arid and temperate grasslands.


Quaggas were a species that, like other zebras, formed large herds. The quaggas became extinct due to the excessive and continuous hunting for their attractive skin and meat, the competition with domestic cattle for food, and likely introduced domestic animal’s diseases.

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