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Nome: KULAN - Asiaic Wild Ass
Subspecies: There are five subspecies of Asiatic wild ass, including E. h. hemionus, E. h. luteus, E. h. kulan, E. h. onager, and E. h. khur. Common names follow from the subspecies name for kulan and onager ... khulan are in Mongolia and kulan are in Turkmenistan, which are endangered. Races include the Mongolian khulan (E. h. hemionus), the Gobi khulan (E. h. luteus), and the Indian wild ass (E. h. khur). Another subspecies, the Syrian wild ass (E. h. hemippus) is extinct.
Distribution: Asiatic wild asses are rare now, and their distribution is much reduced from the historic distribution. They once spanned from the Red Sea east to Mongolia. Today, Mongolia remains the stronghold for Asiatic wild ass, with khulan and onager occurring in Iran and Turkmenistan. Other pockets of asses occur throughout their historic range.
Ecology: Asiatic wild asses eat grasses when forage is plentiful, but will browse shrubs and trees if grasses are unavailable. In some populations, stallions defend territories that females move on to and off. In other populations, territories are defended year-round. In general, dominant stallions defend the best territories. In a well-studied Israel population, stallions returned each year to defend their breeding territory.
Conservation Status: Poaching for meat and hides is the biggest threat to Asiatic wild asses. Some of the subspecies of Asiatic wild ass are extremely rare, such as the Persian onager, which is critically endangered. Some scattered subpopulations are threatened because there is too little movement of animals between the groups. Small groups of animals that don't get new members can develop hereditary problems (inbreeding).
Recommendations: Information on the basic biology of the endangered subspecies (onager and khulan) is lacking. Conservation efforts would be better focused if more of the biology of the species was known. Also, the status of khulans in Turkmenistan should be established. The taxonomic relationships and distributions of Asiatic wild assess should be clarified. Their status in China is largely unknown. Methods to reduce conflicts between human populations and wild asses, including poaching, should be pursued. Humans are encroaching on reserves that aid in Asiatic wild ass conservation. Lastly, and specifically, the Wild Ass Sanctuary in the Little Rann of Kutch, India serves important functions, and should be supported.
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