The African wild ass is a hardy animal which is well adapted to desert life.
It can sustain water loss of up to 30% of its body weight, and can drink enough water in two to five minutes to restore fluid loss. The species was domesticated about 6,000 years ago, and is mentioned frequently in the Bible. Domestic donkey are now found all over the world, yet only a few hundred of their wild ancestors survive. They are Equids, a formerly diverse family that today is only represented by the genus Equus, which only has 7 species within it. Furthermore, their order; Perisodactyla was also formerly diverse and widespread, but today is only represented by Equids, tapir, and rhinos; totalling 17 species. Populations of wild asses are decreasing as a result of hunting, both for meat and traditional medicine, competition with livestock for limited desert resources, and hybridization with domestic donkey.
- Order: Perissodactyla
- Family: Equidae
- Population: <600
- Trend: decreasing
- Size: 2m
- Weight: 250kg
The species is now found only as small scattered populations in northeast Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia.
Habitat and Ecology
The species inhabits arid areas such as hilly and stony deserts, arid and semi-arid bushlands and grasslands. It avoids sandy areas, such as the dune regions of the Sahara, access to surface water is essential. They are predominantly grazers, eating mostly grasses when available, but also herbs. The females give birth to one foal every other year, with gestation taking a year