African wild ass (Equus asinus somalicus)

Somali Wild Ass

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Fast facts

Status Critically Endangered

Size Head and body length: 200cm (average). Tail length: 42cm (average).

Weight Up to 275kg

Gestation 11-12 months

Young 1

Life span 25-30 years

What do I eat?

These animals are herbivores and will graze on different grasses, as well as bushes and leaves from low hanging branches. They have even been known to stand on their back legs to reach food from higher tree branches.

The African wild ass is active during the coolest times of the day, mostly at dawn and dusk. During the heat of the day it will rest in shady areas. Its also known to be active during the night, in order to find good grazing areas.

Where do I live?

These animals are found within arid areas, semi-arid bush and grasslands in Ethiopia and Somalia, Africa.

Breeding

African wild ass are social animals, they form loose herds where individuals can come and go. They are able to breed from between 2-5 years old, with females maturing quicker and are able to breed earlier than males.

They give birth to one foal every two years, normally during the wet season. Mares give birth close to their herd and the foal is able to stand and follow its mother within an hour of being born. African wild ass foals grow very quickly. By the time they are a year old, they are weaned from their mother and are about half of their adult size.

Predators

Wolves are known to hunt young African wild ass, but humans are the main predators of these animals.

When threatened, African wild ass will give out an alarm call and then run away. These animals are very quick, reaching speeds of 30mph. However if cornered, they are known to kick out very hard, which is often enough to scare off most threats.

Conservation

These animals are hunted for their meat, which is known to be used in traditional medicines; as some cultures believe it can cure diseases such as hepatitis. Due to the increase in demand for land for agriculture, African wild ass are often competing for grazing areas and access to water sources with livestock. They have also been known to interbreed with domestic horses and donkeys, which is further reducing the number of African wild ass in the wild.

The African wild ass is legally protected in the countries they are found in, although this has often proved to be difficult to enforce. Typically populations of horses and asses are fairly resilient, and if properly protected they may well recover from their current low.

Did you know?

African wild ass can survive a few days without water; as they will gain as much moisture as they can from their food.

The soles of their hooves are particularly hard and grow very quickly.

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Wild Explorers Exhibit

Would just like to say how impressed I was with the new Wild Explorer exhibit, it was amazing. Couldn't get the children out of there 10 out of 10Dawn, 10th August 2015