Overview

Brief Summary

The African Wild Ass has a limited range in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Somalia. This is the ancestor of the domestic donkey. Taxonomic treatments vary, but Rubenstein (2011) treats the African Wild Ass and the domestic donkey as two distinct species, Equus africanus and E. asinus, respectively.

The African Wild Ass inhabits hilly and stony deserts, as well as semi-desert grasslands and euphorbia and aloe shrublands receiving 100 to 200 mm annual rainfall. Sandy habitats are avoided. African Wild Asses have been found up to 1500 m elevation in Ethiopia.

African Wild Asses mainly graze on various grasses. They can lose up to 30% of their body weight in water, then replenish this loss in just a few minutes when water is available. Nevertheless, they must drink every few days and are rarely found more than 30 km from a water source. They live in small groups, typically consisting of fewer than five animals, with mostly short-term associations (except between a mother and her young). The life span is thought to be around 25 to 30 years.

This species is critically endangered and currently occupies only a small portion of its historical range, which once included large stretches of northern Africa. It is threatened by hunting for food and body parts used in traditional healing, competition with livestock for food and water, and possibly interbreeding with domestic donkeys.

(Rubenstein 2011 and references therein)

  • Rubenstein, D.I. 2011. African Wild Ass (Equus africanus). Pp. 140-141 in: Wilson, D.E. and Mittermeier, R.A., eds. Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Volume 2. Hoofed Mammals. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Leo Shapiro

Supplier: Leo Shapiro

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Biology

African wild asses have a fluid social arrangement and often form temporary aggregations of one or both sexes, which last no more than a few months and can contain as many as 50 individuals (4). Mature males however, tend to occupy large territories that are often situated around a water supply; these allow them to attain access to any receptive females passing through the area (5). Other males form bachelor groups and females may group with other females or with their own offspring. Mares tend to produce one foal every two years and births occur during the wet season (4). Active in the cool of dawn and dusk, African wild asses seek shade in the heat of the day and are able to survive without water for a few days at a time (2). These grazers eat a variety of grasses and herbs, and in captivity have been known to live for 40 years (4).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Description

The African wild ass is the ancestor of the domestic donkey (4), and has a similar stocky body shape. The short, smooth coat is a light grey to fawn colour, fading to white on the undersides and legs (2). Both subspecies have a dark stripe across their back and the Somali wild ass (E.a.somalicus) also has horizontally striped legs like those of a zebra (2). The ears are large and bordered by black whilst the thick, upright mane is also black at the tip (2).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

The African Wild Ass according to MammalMAP

The African wild ass (Equus asinus) is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Critically Endangered.

Well adapted for the desert life, the African wild ass can only be found in the rocky hills and semi-arid bushlands of northeast Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia. Previously its geographic spread also included northern Africa, but due to hunting, numbers have been reduced to as little as 570 individuals.

This ancestor of domestic donkeys resembles a short, stocky horse with long ears on its large head. It has a tufted tail and a stiff, upright mane on the nape of its neck. Its coat is light grey to reddish brown in colour, with a white underbelly and legs, as well as black bands on the legs in the Somalian subspecies. It has long and narrow hooves for a sturdier footing in the rocky desert.

The African wild ass is mainly a grazer of grasses, but eats any type of vegetation, and can go without water for at least three days. They are active during the cooler early mornings and late afternoon, and seek out shade during the hotter parts of the day to rest.

They breed during the wet season and females have a gestation period of one year, giving birth to one foal.

African wild asses are protected by law, but these laws are difficult to enforce and illegal hunting still occur. Research is currently being done to study population size, habitat requirements and threats, in order for better management of this species. 

  • 2010. African Wild Ass (Equus asinus). In: EDGE Evolutionary Distinct & Globally Endangered. . Downloaded on 08 December 2013
  • Moehlman, P.D., Yohannes, H., Teclai, R. & Kebede, F. 2008. Equus africanus. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. . Downloaded on 08 December 2013.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Annette Venter

Supplier: Annette Venter

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Distribution

Range Description

The African Wild Ass occurs in Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia; some animals may persist in Djibouti, Sudan and Egypt, but there is no recent information available (Moehlman et al. in press). Yalden et al. (1996) recorded them to 1500 m in Ethiopia.

Two subspecies are recognized. The Nubian Wild Ass, E. a. africanus, lived in the Nubian desert of north-eastern Sudan, from east of the Nile River to the shores of the Red Sea, and south to the Atbara River and into northern Eritrea. During aerial flights in the 1970s, wild asses were seen in the Barka Valley of Eritrea and in the border area between Eritrea and the Sudan. The Somali Wild Ass, E. a. somaliensis, was found in the Denkelia region of Eritrea, the Danakil Desert and the Awash River Valley in the Afar region of north-eastern Ethiopia, western Djibouti, and into the Ogaden region of eastern Ethiopia. In Somalia, they ranged from Meit and Erigavo in the north to the Nugaal Valley, and as far south as the Shebele River (Moehlman 2002; Moehlman et al. in press).

The current range of the African Wild Ass (in Ethiopia and Eritrea) is approximately 15,000 km². DNA extracted from faecal samples collected from animals in Eritrea and Ethiopia resulted in the identification of five mitochondrial DNA haplotypes: one haplotype (group of polymorphisms) specific to the Eritrean population (haplotype D); one haplotype specific to the Ethiopian population (E); and three shared haplotypes (A, B, and C). These results suggest that there is and/or has been gene flow between the subpopulations (Afrera, Serdo) in Ethiopia and the population in Eritrea (Oakenfull et al. 2002).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Range

Previously found across northern Africa, from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco to Sudan and Somalia (4). Today, this species is restricted to scattered populations in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia and is regionally extinct in Egypt and Sudan (1).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The primary habitat is arid and semi-arid bushland and grassland. In Eritrea and Ethiopia, the African Wild Ass lives in volcanic landscape of the Great Rift Valley where they range from below sea level in the Dalool Depression to 2,000 m asl (Moehlman et al. in press).

In Eritrea and Ethiopia, limited observations indicate that African Wild Asses are primarily grazers, but that they will also utilize browse. Typical of arid habitat equids, the only stable groups are composed of a female and her offspring. Females do associate with other females or with males, but even temporary groups are small. Low density and low sociability may be due to low forage quality and availability. In the Mille-Serdo Wild Ass Reserve the preferred forage is Aristida sp, Chrysopogon plumulosus, Dactyloctenium schindicum, Digiteria sp, Lasiurus scindicus, and Sporobolus iocladus (Kebede 1999; Moehlman 2002; Moehlman et al. in press). In Eritrea, Pannicum turgidium is an important forage species (Teclai 2006).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Inhabits arid areas such as hill and stony deserts, semi-arid bushlands and grasslands, where there is access to surface water (2).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
CR
Critically Endangered

Red List Criteria
C2a(i)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Moehlman, P.D., Yohannes, H., Teclai, R. & Kebede, F.

Reviewer/s
Rubenstein, D., Hack, M. & Hrabar, H. (Equid Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Critically Endangered as the species numbers at best approximately 200 mature individuals, may be undergoing a continuing decline due to climate and human/livestock impact, and no subpopulation numbers in excess of 50 mature individuals. The species may also meet the threshold for Critically Endangered under D, as there may be less than 50 mature individuals in the wild.

History
  • 1996
    Critically Endangered
    (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
  • 1996
    Critically Endangered
  • 1994
    Endangered
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Endangered
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Endangered
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
  • 1986
    Endangered
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Status

Classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1) and listed on Appendix I of CITES (3). Subspecies: Numbian wild ass (E. a. africanus) and the Somali wild ass (E. a. somalicus) are both classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Population

Population
In Ethiopia, there has been a severe population decline since the early 1970s. Klingel (1972) recorded group sizes of 10-30 individuals in the Danakil, and he estimated a density of 18.6 wild asses per 100 km² in an area of approximately 10,000 km². During that survey, Yangudi-Rassa National Park had the highest density (30 wild asses per 100 km²). In 1994, Moehlman and Kebede did a ground survey of the Yangudi-Rassa N.P.; no wild asses were seen, although local Issa pastoralists reported that they were present but rare and occurred at an approximate density well below one animal per 100 km² (Moehlman 1994; Kebede 1995; Moehlman et al. 1998). In 2007, Kebede (F. Kebede et al. pers. comm. 2007) surveyed the historic range of the African Wild Ass in Ethiopia and determined that they have been extirpated from the Yangudi-Rassa N.P. and the Somali Region and that the only remaining population is in the north-eastern Afar Region. The total number of wild ass observed during this survey was 25 in an area of 4,000 km² yielding a density of 0.625 animals per 100 km². This density is higher than that of 1994-1998 survey, which was 0.5 wild ass per 100 km² in an area of 2,000 km² (Moehlman 2002). In the Serdo-Hillu area, where there has been a research and conservation programme with Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority and local Afar pastoralists for the past ten years, the population has remained stable. Although the number of African Wild Ass in this area has not declined, the population is very small and under high risk of extinction. There may be fewer than 200 African Wild Ass left in Ethiopia.

In Eritrea, there are limited long-term data. The first successful survey was made in 1996 and there has been a research and conservation programme with the Ministry of Agriculture for the past ten years. The main study site in the Northern Red Sea Zone has had a population of roughly 47 individuals per 100 km² (Moehlman et al. 1998; Moehlman 2002). This is the highest population density found anywhere in the present range of the species and is similar to population densities recorded in Ethiopia in the early 1970s. This is a limited study area (100 km²), but recent research indicates that African Wild Ass currently inhabit approximately 11,000 km² in the Denkeli desert (Teclai 2006). Surveys are needed to determine the distribution and density of African Wild Ass in this larger area. A rough estimate of African Wild Ass in Eritrea would yield a total of possibly 400 individuals.

In Somalia, in 1997, local pastoralists said that there were less than 10 African Wild Ass left in the Nugaal Valley; an earlier ground survey in 1989 in the Nugaal Valley yielded population estimates of roughly 135-205 animals or approximately 2.7-4.1/km² (Moehlman 1998). Some animals may remain near Meit and Erigavo, but this area has not been surveyed since the 1970s (Moehlman et al. in press). It is not known if African Wild Ass currently persist in Somalia.

In summary, the total number of observed African Wild Ass in Eritrea and Ethiopia is 70 individuals; there may be as many as 600 individuals in these two countries, but this figure is a very rough extrapolation from more intensely studied areas. The number of mature individuals is approximately one-third of the population (Feh et al. 2001), hence the minimum number of mature individuals is 23 and the maximum might be 200. In Ethiopia, in the last 35 years there has been a greater that 95% population decline and in the last 12 years the African Wild Ass has been extirpated from roughly 50% of its range (Kebede et al. 2007). In Eritrea, the population is stable and slowly increasing. However, it is difficult to predict population trends into the future. The desert habitat of the African Wild Ass in both Eritrea and Ethiopia suffers from recurrent and extreme droughts (Kebede 1999; Teclai 2006).

Population Trend
Decreasing
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Threats

Major Threats
The major threat to the African Wild Ass is hunting for food and medicinal purposes; for example, body parts and soup made from bones are used for treating tuberculosis, constipation, rheumatism, backache, and boneache (Kebede 1999; Moehlman 2002; Moehlman et al. in press). Limited access to drinking water and forage (largely due to competition with livestock) is also a major constraint, with reproductive females and foals less than three-months old most at risk. Hence, it will continue to be important to determine critical water supplies and basic forage requirements, allowing management authorities to determine (in consultation with local pastoralists) how to conserve the African Wild Ass (Kebede 1999, 2007; Moehlman 2002; Teclai 2006; Moehlman et al. in press). The third major threat to the survival of the African Wild Ass is possible interbreeding with the domestic donkey (Moehlman 2002; Moehlman et al. in press).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

African wild asses have been captured for domestication for centuries and this, together with interbreeding between wild and domestic animals, has caused a distinct decline in population numbers (4). There are now only a few hundred individuals left in the wild (4) and the species is under threat of extinction. These animals are hunted for food and for traditional medicine in both Ethiopia and Somalia, where recent civil unrest has led to an increased number of weapons in circulation. Competition with domestic livestock for grazing, and restricted access to water supplies caused by agricultural developments, pose further threats to the survival of this species (4).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Listed on CITES Appendix I. In Ethiopia, the Yangudi-Rassa National Park (4,731 km²) and the Mille-Serdo Wild Ass Reserve (8,766 km²) were established in 1969. However, the former has never been formally gazetted, and both areas are utilized by large numbers of pastoralists and their livestock. These areas are remote and extremely arid, and the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Organization (EWCO) has not had sufficient funds or personnel for appropriate management (Kebede 1999). In Eritrea, the government designated the African wild ass area between the Buri Peninsula and the Dalool Depression as a high-priority area for conservation protection as a nature reserve. In both Eritrea and Ethiopia, research and conservation programmes (Ministry of Agriculture and EWCA) have been critical for sustaining African Wild Ass populations by involving local pastoralists in their conservation. There are no protected areas in the range of the species in Somalia. Populations of Somali Wild Ass are maintained in captivity (Moehlman 2002).

Recommended research and conservation actions, include:

1. Ecosystems based and population dynamics research on the African Wild Ass in Eritrea and Ethiopia.
2. Research on interactions among pastoralists, livestock, wildlife and the environment
3. Actively involve local pastoralists in the preparation and management of long-term action plans
4. Post-graduate training of personnel in Eritrea and Ethiopia.
5. Surveys in Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan and Egypt to determine current distribution of African wild ass
6. Genetic research on the African Wild Ass and local domestic donkey populations to clarify the genetic status of the two subspecies.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Conservation

The African wild ass is legally protected in the countries within which it is currently found (4), although these measures often prove difficult to enforce. More effective protection measures need to be adopted if the status of this species is to improve. A protected population of the Somali wild ass exists in the Yotvata Hai-Bar (Wildlife Preserve) Nature Reserve in Israel, to the north of Elat (6). This reserve was established in 1968 with the view to bolster populations of endangered desert species (7). Populations of horses and asses are fairly resilient, and if the species is properly protected it may well recover from its current low (5).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Wikipedia

Nubian wild ass

The Nubian wild ass (Equus africanus africanus) is a subspecies of the African wild ass, and probably the ancestor of domestic donkeys,.[3] The ass was domesticated about 6,000 years ago, probably in Egypt or Mesopotamia.[citation needed]

The Nubian wild ass is most likely extinct in the wild since the 1950s.[citation needed] However, the IUCN Red List [1] still mentions it as critically endangered. It is closely related to the Somali wild ass,[citation needed] which is also on the brink of extinction in the wild.

In 2014, blood samples from four individual wild donkeys from the island of Bonaire were sent to the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences at Texas A&M University to have Mitochondrial DNA sequencing done to determine the identity of this species. The tests results were conclusive that the donkeys "had perfect match to haplotypes of historic Nubian Wild Ass" and that "this result indicates that the Bonaire donkeys are direct descendants of the Nubian." Full 5-page report here:[4] Wildlife Ecologist, Member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission and President of the Andean Tapir Fund/Wild Horse and Burro Fund, Craig C. Downer has urged in a letter dated March 6, 2014, to the Honorable Governor of Bonaire that the government of Bonaire protect the donkeys as a Critically Endangered (CR) subspecies. Downer's letter:[5] In addition, expert biologist, Robert C. Bauer also wrote a letter to the Bonairean government illustrating the importance of the wild donkeys to the natural ecosystem there. Like Craig Downer's letter, it explained in detail the very important ecological niche that is filled by the wild donkeys. Bauer's letter here:[6] To date, no action has been taken by the government. Male donkeys are currently being captured, tagged and castrated by the "Donkey Sanctuary of Bonaire" and released, pregnant females are being held captive and young males castrated, under contract with the local government. Local organizations are being formed to save the species. The "Citizens For a Better and Safer Animal-Friendly Bonaire" organization called upon Mr. Downer who traveled to Bonaire July 2014 to conduct additional research. Craig Downer's highly detailed statement was presented to government decision-makers. Read here: [7] The Bonairean government has still not stopped the castrations.

On October 23, 2014 after worldwide and local pressures, the Governor of Bonaire put a temporary halt to the donkey castrations for the period of 6 months, by letter to the Donkey Sanctuary of Bonaire.[8] Local conservation groups on Bonaire report that Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire continues to capture female donkeys and their offspring to be held in captivity.[citation needed]

Characteristics[edit]

The Nubian wild ass is known for its stamina.[citation needed] It has a slender body and a stripe across the shoulder.[citation needed] Its head is rather large, with two long slender ears.[citation needed] The shoulder height of the Nubian wild ass is about 120 centimeters.[citation needed] Skin color varies from light brown to gray.[citation needed]

Ecology[edit]

Nubian wild asses used to live in the northeast of Africa,[citation needed] ranging from mountains and rocky areas to semideserts and grasslands.[citation needed] Feeding occurs during the night and early morning.[citation needed] The diet includes grasses and types of forbs.[citation needed] During the heat of day, the Nubian wild ass takes refuge in the shade.[citation needed]

Lifestyle[edit]

Males tend to live alone or in small groups.[citation needed] Females and young animals live in herds.[citation needed] There is no strict hierarchy in the herd, and when fights erupt, the animals kick and bite each other.[citation needed]

Reproduction[edit]

After almost a year of gestation, the female typically gives birth to one foal.[citation needed] The mother and foal separate themselves from the herd until the foal is able to recognize its mother.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Equid Specialist Group (1996). Equus africanus ssp. africanus. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 18 May 2008.
  2. ^ (German) Heuglin Th. v & Fitzinger L. J. (1866). "Systematische Übersicht der Säugethiere Nordost-Afrika’s mit Einschluß der arabischen Küste, des rothen Meeres, der Somáli- und der Nilquellen-Länder, südwärts bis zum vierten Grade nördlicher Breite. Von Dr Theodor v. Heuglin. Nach brieflichen Mittheilungen und den Original-Exemplaren des Herrn Verfassers ergänzt und mit Zusätzen versehen von dem w. M. Dr Leopold Joseph Fitzinger". Sitzungsberichte der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Abt. 1. Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Klasse 54: 537-611.
  3. ^ Wynne Parry, Wynne (July 29, 2010). "Donkey's Wild Ass Ancestor Confirmed". Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  4. ^ [1], [2], [3], [4], [5].
  5. ^ Downer's letter
  6. ^ [6]
  7. ^ [7]
  8. ^ [8]
Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Source: Wikipedia

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Disclaimer

EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.

To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!