Asiatic Wild Ass


Scientific Name: (Equus hemionus)

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Perissodactyla

Family: Equidae

Genus: Equus


Description:

The Asiatic Wild Ass is the most horse-like of all species of ass. Wild asses are a little bit bigger than donkeys. They have short legs compared to horses and they are usually untamable The color of their fur changes from season to season from light brown in the winter to reddish brown in the summer. They usually weigh between 200-260 kg, and have a length of around 2.5 m. They can travel in herds that can reach up to numbers of around 1,200 individuals.

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Biology:

Asiatic Wild Ass usually inhabits areas like mountain steppes, steppes, or semi-deserts and desert plains. They eat grasses when available but in drier habitats they may eat shrubs or trees. The subspecies of Asiatic Wild Ass called Mongolian wild ass can eat snow in the winter to get water. At other times if there isn’t enough natural water available the Mongolian ass will dig up holes in dry riverbeds to access sub-surface water. Water sources are very important in determining the distribution of the population. They can't be farther from water sources than 10-15 km especially during the summer. Other animals will come to these holes as well to get water. Breeding is seasonal and most births occur between the months of April and September. Sexual maturity starts at 5 years old. The expected lifespan for most Asiatic Wild Asses can go up to 40 years. If females are carrying young they will usually form groups of up to five other females. Males have been seen guarding areas that attract females or protecting groups of females. The differences in behavioral and social can be the result of many factors including changes in climate, vegetation, and predation and hunting.

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Range:

Around 40,000 years ago Asian wild asses extended as far west as Germany but now their habitat range has shrunk enormously. The current estimated number of mature Asiatic Wild Asses left is 8,358. The Mongolian wild ass is the most abundant subspecies remaining of the Asian wild asses. The Mongolian wild ass is found in southern Mongolia and parts of northern China. The sub-population in southern Mongolia accounts for a staggering 80 percent of the entire species population. In all other population areas there are fewer than a hundred individuals. Three other species of Asiatic wild ass are the Indian wild ass, the kulan, and the onager. These three subspecies are all really small and highly isolated. All three could go extinct very soon if extreme events happen like an outbreak of disease. The global population of the Asiatic Wild Ass has declined by 52 percent in last 16 years.
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Range of Population Map:
http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=7951

Threats:

The greatest threat facing the Asiatic wild ass is poaching for meat or hides. In other areas they are hunted to be used in medicine. Another big problem facing the population as a whole is how isolated they are from one another. Sometimes inbreeding can occur between the same sub-species, which causes genetic problems. There is also a lack of food and water in some areas because other livestock or people over us the areas. Certain groups can become fragmented because of human expansion, which is called habitat fragmentation. The Syrian Wild Ass became extinct in 1927.

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Conservation:

Some Asiatic wild asses do live in protected sites where targeted conservation action has been taken. Some things that have been done are that domestic animals have been removed from some protected areas, and artificial watering holes have been made. Also hay is provided and there are hefty fines for poaching. The species is legally protected in many of the countries in which it occurs. Some important steps in the conservation of the Asiatic wild ass is to ensure the protection in particularly vulnerable parts of its range, to increase the involvement of local people, and to conduct further research into the behavior, ecology, and taxonomy of the species. Several Asiatic wild ass research programs are already considered these issues and are working on it now. Also some species are being reintroduced in different habitat ranges or they are trying to create hybrid species to raise the species numbers.

Video Links:
http://www.arkive.org/asiatic-wild-ass/equus-hemionus/video-kh09d.html
http://www.arkive.org/asiatic-wild-ass/equus-hemionus/video-kh03.html

Works Cited:



"Asian Wild Ass." BBC News. BBC, 2014. Web. 15 Feb. 2014. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Onager>.

"Asiatic Wild Ass - Equus Hemionus." Factsheet: Asiatic Wild Ass. Large Herbivore Network, n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2014. <http://www.lhnet.org/asiatic-wild-ass/>.

"Asiatic Wild Ass." Asiatic Wild Ass. ChinaCulture.org, 2003. Web. 15 Feb. 2014. <http://www.chinaculture.org/gb/en_aboutchina/2003-09/24/content_20914.htm>.

"Asiatic Wild Ass (Equus Hemionus)." Asiatic Wild Ass Videos, Photos and Facts. ARKIVE, n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2014. <http://www.arkive.org/asiatic-wild-ass/equus-hemionus/>.

"Equus Hemionus." (Asian Wild Ass, Asiatic Wild Ass, Kulan). ICUN Red List, n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2014. <http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/7951/0>.


Links:
__http://www.arkive.org/asiatic-wild-ass/equus-hemionus/__
http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/7951/0
http://www.lhnet.org/asiatic-wild-ass/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Onager
http://www.chinaculture.org/gb/en_aboutchina/2003-09/24/content_20914.htm

Jeremy Garling