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Zebras losing their stripes? Is it our fault?
Some zebras are being born without the normal stripe pattern. The cause seems to be inbreeding and a lack of genetic diversity.
There are many zebras in Africa, but their populations are fragmented because their habitats are fragmented. They exist in little pockets of land that are cut off from each other. Instead of herds exchanging genetic material, they are stuck within their own herd. That increases the chances of gene mutations being passed on and  appearing in zebras being born now. It is not clear yet how these mutations will effect zebra survival. The striped pattern has evolved over many centuries and has served zebras well.  The change in pattern and the loss of genetic diversity are effecting the health of the herds of zebras. The numbers no longer reflect the health of the species.

We already know that habitat loss puts species at risk. Habitat fragmentation could be as big a problem. It confines portions of the species total  population to a pocket of habitat. They cannot migrate as they naturally would and they cannot exchange genetic material and even more vital action. The change in stipe patterns is a warning sign of a serious problem. When we are assessing a species to determine if it is at risk, numbers alone to not give an acurate picture. 
Small pockets of unhealthy, inbred zebras  even if there are many of them and not a sign that the species is doing well.
We need to find a way to help zebras now and we need to find a solution to habitat fragmentation. Conservation just got even more complicated.
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