Wild Ass (known also as Onager) lives only in Iran and is
classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class
Mammalia, order Perissodactyla, family Equidae.
It is generally similar
to domesticated donkey but a little larger in size and with
a fleet yellow-brown coat but the sides, underparts and back
of the body are white. Ears are shorter than a donkey and
it has a black mane which is visible on the neck and a dark
brown spinal band stretching up to the tail. Males are larger.
Weighting approximately 250 Kilograms. Length is 2 meters
andİit stands about 1.5 meters high at the shoulder.
and Distribution :
Once they were common
in most of the Central and southern plains of the country.
Today, they live only in some Iranian desert regions that
limited to Three major protected areas as: "Khoush yeelagh"
and "Khartouran" Protected Area in Semnan province and "Bahram
Gour" ProtectedİArea in Fars province. These dry, waterless
regions are hot during the day and cold at night, with little
The Persian wild ass is one of the
species that has adapted to life in the desert. wild asses
are herbivores feeding on foliage, grass, herbs and bushes.
They receive most of their necessary water from these plants.
Amongst these, green fresh grass forms their favorite food.
Asses usually graze in the morning and afternoon when it's
cooler. The ass is well-adapted
to its environment, with high crowned molars that can grind
tough food and which regrow as they are worn away.
The ass also has a gut which contains
the tiny microscopic protozoa, which helps digest grasses
inedible to other animals. Also, compared to other mammals
of similar habitat, asses need to drink more water.
During hot summer days, they drink
water nearly every day from springs which are less than 20
kilometers from their grazing land. In
places where they feel they have less protection, they preferring
to drink from springs at midnight.
Mating takes place in mid-June. At this time, males fight
each other, which includes biting and kicking. Most asses
lose a part of their tail during these fights.
Gestation lasts for about one year.
Fowls can follow the mare shortly after birth.
The mare leaves the herd for a safe
place before giving birth. Each mare gives birth to one young
only, and a strong bond exists between the female ass and
her fowl which lasts for the first two years of the foal's
During this time, the mare defends her
fowl against all other animals. Stallions become sexually
mature at 2 years but due to competition with other stallions,
they usually don't succeed is mating until 4 years of age.
Sexual maturity in females depends on their
food. Usually, they are capable of mating and breeding at
2 years of age; the Persian mare breeds every other year.
Persian asses have a lifespan of about 40 years.
Asses live in herds,
though old stallions are usually solitary. The mare and her
fowl also live together or in herds that are entirely made
up of female asses and their fowls. Persian asses are active
during the day, becoming most active early in the morning
and in the evening. They can run at 60-70 kilometers per hour
over short distances, but after a while, this speed is reduced
to 40-50 kilometers per hour. At this reduced speed, they
can move for hours without becoming tired.
Situation and Conservation:
The Persian wild ass
is currently in danger of extinction. Its population has declined
severely due to over-hunting, competition with livestock for
food and water, and loss of natural habitats. According to
a report (November 2000) as the result of over grazing of
the camels and livestock in the "Kharturan" protected area,
the pastures of this area (which is the main habitat of Persian
wild asses), are going to be destroyed. This problem is another
sign of worry for the feature of this animals in their homeland.
In May 1998 the famous "National Geographic
Magazine" had an interesting report about the situation of
these animates. This magazine betokened that before the Islamic
revolution in Iran (in 1979) there were 12000 wild ass in
this country. After just 10 years their number arrived to
3000 and in 1998 there were about 800 heads living in Iran.
Today only between 200 and 400 individuals survive in the
northern desert plateau of Iran.
For many centuries it was hunted for sport
by the Persian nobility, and young onagers were captured for
the breeding of riding animals. The
Iranian wild ass was so difficult to hunt that many of great
Iranian hunters have lost their lives trying to kill or capture
it. The most famous
onager hunter during our history was "Bahram Gur" a Sassanian
king (reigned AD 430-38) whose name "Gur" means "wild ass,"
in Farsi, and was renowned by his skill hunting onagers. According
to a tale, he died when he was following a wild ass. His horse
fell in a deep open grave (grave means Gur in Farsi too).
Fortunately, ass has keen senses and can
smell humans from a far distance. Owing to the swiftness and
endurance of the onager, relatively few animals were captured
by traditional methods. However, since the invention of modern
firearms and automobiles, the animals have been extensively
slaughtered for their flesh and hides.
to save the Persian Wild Ass:
Since 30 years ago it has been designated
as a protected specie In Iran and its hunting is prohibited
in all seasons of the year. In
1953-54 Carl-Heinrichs organized an expedition to Iran, in
aim to bring to Hamburg a small herd of Persian wild ass.