Onager

Two out of six subspecies were hunted to extinction: the European & Syrian wild ass

MathKnight and Zachi Evenor

Also known as Asiatic wild ass, it represents a fascinating and unique member of the Equidae family, which includes horses, donkeys, and zebras. This large mammal boasts a striking presence in the arid deserts and expansive grasslands of Iran, India, and other Central Asian landscapes. Characterized by distinctive markings, including stripes on their legs and a darker stripe along their back, onagers exhibit a blend of beauty and resilience tailored to their harsh environments.

Adapted to life in some of the most challenging ecosystems on the planet, onagers are herbivores with a diet primarily consisting of grasses, herbs, and other vegetation found in their desert and grassland habitats. Their feeding habits play a crucial role in the ecological balance of these regions, as they help to prevent the overgrowth of vegetation and ensure a diverse and healthy ecosystem. The ability of onagers to thrive in these environments highlights their importance not only as a species but also as a key component of their ecological community.

Despite their adaptability and ecological significance, onagers face an array of threats that have led to a dramatic decline in their populations. Habitat loss, driven by the expansion of agricultural land, urban development, and the degradation of natural landscapes, has significantly reduced their living spaces, fragmenting their populations and making it harder for them to find food and water. Additionally, hunting for their meat and hide, as well as competition with livestock for grazing land, has further endangered their existence.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Afghanistan
Official estimate
EX
Last sighting 1927
Armenia
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 17th century
Azerbaijan
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 17th century
China
5,000
Official estimate
NT
2015
Georgia
Official estimate
EX
Last sighting 1938
India
6,000
Official estimate
NT
2015
Iran
<600
Official estimate
EN
2015
Iraq
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 1927
Israel
<500
Official estimate
EN
2019
Reintroduced
Jordan
Official estimate
EX
Last killed 1927
Kazakhstan
3,900
Official estimate
EN
2015
Reintroduced
Kuwait
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 1927
Kyrgyzstan
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 1927
Lebanon
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 1927
Mongolia
42,000
Official estimate
NT
2015
Pakistan
2015
Presence Uncertain
Russia
Official estimate
EX
Extinct locally
Saudi Arabia
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 17th century
Syria
Official estimate
EX
Extinct 1927
Tajikistan
Official estimate
EX
Extinct locally
Turkey
Official estimate
EX
Extinct locally
Turkmenistan
1,295-1,345
Official estimate
EN
2015
Ukraine
Official estimate
EX
Extinct locally
Uzbekistan
98
Official estimate
NT
2015
Reintroduced

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No