Somali wild ass
|Somali wild ass|
|Subspecies:||E. a. somaliensis|
|Equus africanus somaliensis
Current distribution and habitat
There are likely less than 1000 animals (or even 700) in the wild and the IUCN Red List of endangered species described it as "critically endangered". This means they face an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.
As of 2011[update], there are about 200 individuals in captivity around the globe living in 34 zoos, as well as three animals (as of 2009) in the Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve in Israel, to the north of Eilat. The international studbook is managed by Tierpark Berlin.
The leading zoo for breeding this rare ass is Zoo Basel, Switzerland. Its breeding program manages the European studbook for the Somali wild ass and coordinates the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) – as well as the global species committee of the Somali Wild Ass since 2004.
Zoo Basel started keeping Somali wild asses in 1970 and had its first birth in 1972. Since then, 11 stallions and 24 females (as of 2009) were born and survived childhood. Today, all Somali wild donkeys in captivity are related to the original group at Zoo Basel.
As of January 18, 2012, there are four Somali wild donkeys in Basel: The stallion "Gigolo" (3) and three females (among them "Yogala"-14).
Only three institutions breed Somali wild ass in the United States: St. Louis Zoo, San Diego Zoo, and White Oak Conservation in Yulee, Florida. White Oak received a herd in 2008 as part of an international effort to save Somali wild ass from extinction. Since then, the herd has produced 18 foals, including several born in spring 2013.
Domestic donkeys found in Italy are typically descended from the Somali wild ass, as opposed to those from other European countries where domesticated stock are usually descended from the Nubian wild ass.
A conservation project (mainly supported by Zoo Basel) in Eritrea counted (before 2014) 47 Somali wild asses living in the mountains between the Buri Peninsula and the Dalool Depression, which is within the larger Danakil Depression, near Eritrea's border with Ethiopia.
As mentioned above, a protected population of the Somali wild ass exists in the Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve. This Israeli reserve was established in 1968 with the view to bolster populations of endangered desert species.
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- Moehlman, Patricia D. (ed). 2002. Equids: Zebras, Asses, and Horses: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN/SCC Equid Specialist Group