MAMMAL

The Quagga

Equus quagga quagga

The extinct quagga, named for its distinctive kwa-ha-ha call, was a horse of an entirely different color. Unlike its close relative, the zebra, the quagga’s cinnamon and cream stripes appeared on the front part of its body only. In its midsection, the spaces between the stripes became wider, fading to chestnut brown on its hindquarters and rump. Its tail and legs were bright white.

Thousands of quaggas once roamed the sun-drenched plains of South Africa attracting the attention of the Europeans moving into the interior. A British hunter in the 1840s wrote that quaggas at a distance sparkled like mica. Quaggas were subsequently hunted down for their fabulous skins, and their meat was used for feeding the settlers’ servants. Each quagga had its own unique set of stripes, much like human fingerprints, and the skins were prized for their varying colors and patterns.

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—Anne Landsman

Anne Landsman’s first novel, The Devil’s Chimney, was nominated for the PEN/Hemingway Award, QPB’s New Voices, the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, and the M-Net Book Prize (South Africa). She was born and raised in South Africa.

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