The primary threats to the mountain zebra include competition with domestic livestock, hunting and persecution, habitat loss due to conversion to agriculture (2), and the risk of the two subspecies breed with each other leading to a loss of genetic diversity (2) (10).
Hartmann’s mountain zebras live in direct conflict with livestock farmers, with available grazing ground becoming particularly scarce in many parts of Namibia where very little rainfall has occurred for several years. As a result, more and more Hartmann's mountain zebras are being culled, both legally and illegally. Furthermore, due to the region’s poor economy and scarce resources, poaching for food has increased rapidly over the last few years, since the zebra offers a relatively large amount of meat. The situation in Angola has been exacerbated by war, in which many soldiers and civilians have been in dire need of meat (9).
The Cape mountain zebra formerly inhabited all the mountain ranges of the southern Cape Province of South Africa, but by 1997 less than 750 were believed to survive (5). Reaching a devastating all-time low of just 91 individuals in 1950 (10), this subspecies is considered the largest mammal in South Africa to have come so close to extinction, a fate that sadly awaited the quagga (E. quagga). Although probably never particularly numerous, numbers declined as herds had to compete against sheep and cattle for grazing, and as habitat was increasingly converted into farmland. Hunting was also uncontrolled and this zebra was a popular victim, its hide (skin) allegedly much sought after for the manufacturing of ‘grain bags’. Thankfully, the Cape mountain zebra’s population eventually climbed back up to approximately 1,200 individuals in 1998 (7).