What is it, where does it come from, and how is it doing?
, the Africa
n Wild Ass
, is the ancestor
of the domestic donkey
, and is found in parts of Ethiopia
, and northern Somalia
. Once wider-ranging, the world’s African Wild Ass population has been reduced to a few hundred individuals, largely due to domestication
with domestic livestock for food and water; in 1996, the IUCN
placed it on the Critically Endangered species list.
What does it look like? What makes it a Wild Ass and not just a donkey?
Standing between four and five and a half feet at the shoulder and weighing about six hundred pounds, the African Wild Ass has a light grey coat that fades to white on its belly and legs. It, and all subspecies, has a narrow stripe across the back, and a stiff upright mane. It differs from other species of donkey in that it can survive for greater periods of time without water – two or three days, longer if it receives water through vegetation that it consumes. It can rapidly digest tough grasses and move on to another grazing location.
What about hot donkey-love? Let’s hear about that.
Males of the species reach sexual maturity at two years of age, although most males do not begin breeding until their fourth year, due to competition. A well-fed female will be able to reproduce at two years of age, and can bear young (usually a single foal) annually, although most only do so once every two years, with a gestation period of about a year. They’ll be able to reproduce for about twenty years out of the Wild Ass’s forty-year lifespan.
So do they live together in big happy donkey families or what?
An African Wild Ass will either live solitarily, or they may be found in a variety of temporary groups that last no more than a few months. Some males defend rather large territories (an average of about nine square miles), usually around water. Intruders are usually tolerated, since the territory is too big to exclude them, but the resident male gets sole mating rights to any receptive females in his territory. Males without territories tend to live together in bachelor groups. Females may associate with a single male and other females while producing milk, but otherwise live in groups of about fifty animals while their offspring are still with them.
So what about all that classification stuff?
As you wish: