Zebras Make the Longest Migratory Journey of Any of Africa’s Land Animals

Zebras travel twice as far as North America’s migratory champion, the mule deer

Photo: Jami Tarris/Corbis

An unlikely victor has emerged for the title of longest land migration in Africa. You might think (especially if you grew up watching The Lion King) that it would be the wildebeest or the gazelle. But, according to new research, that honor goes to the zebra. The champion zebra, however, were not the ones that on the Serengeti, National Geographic reports, but those living far to the south, in Namibia and Botswana. 

To make the journey between those two countries, researchers found, the zebra must traverse 300 miles of terrain. The researchers say they were "shocked" by this finding, and that they had no idea this southerly zebra population was in fact making the longest point-to-point migration in Africa. Here you can see the researchers collaring the zebras in order to track them:

Collaring a Zebra to Track Its Record Migration

There's one caveat however, as NatGeo points out: 

In the Serengeti the animals meander more before circling back, so their feet touch more ground, but the distance between the zebras' two destinations is greater.

So fans of Serengeti zebras can still take solace that those animals perform a mightily impressive migration, too.

Either way, though, North America's reigning champion—the mule deer—doesn't come close to challenging Africa's zebras. Last month, scientists discovered that mule deer in Wyoming migrate around 150 miles each year. Impressive for a Stateside animal, but the mule deer are certainly no zebra. 

For those still wanting to root for the home team, you can see North America's mule deer migration in action here: 

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