And finally we’ve reached the end of another year. Last week we met a pair of beetles frozen into the ice in a desperate struggle to survive the winter. This week the holiday hijinks has a kick in the ass, hope you guys enjoy.
Issue #153 – African Wild Ass
Kingdom – Animalia
Phylum – Chordata
Class – Mammalia
Order – Perssiodactyla
Family – Equidae
Genus – Equus
Species – africanus*
Related Species - The African Wild Ass is one of the seven extant species within the genus Equus (1)
*The African Wild Ass is the direct wild ancestor of the domestic donkey (Equus africanus asinus)
The African Wild Ass is a medium sized equid which stands at 1.4m at the shoulder, and reaches a length around 2m. The species has a dun colouring that fades to white on the underbelly and legs. All subspecies have a dorsal stripe that runs down their body, whilst the Nubian variant (Equus africanus africanus) and the domestic donkey have a stripe that crosses the shoulder in addition to the other markings. In addition the Somalian subspecies (Equus africanus somaliensis) has zebra like stripes on the legs that distinguish it from all over subspecies.
African Wild Asses are herbivores that feed on plants that grow in arid and semi-arid conditions. Because food is sparse across their range, Wild Asses don’t live in large herds like horses (Eqqus ferus) and zebra, instead preferring to live solitary lives except during the breeding season. Unlike many equids, Wild Asses don’t flee when faced with danger, but rather investigate potential threats and then react accordingly, often kicking out with both the front and back feet to defend themselves (2).
Male African Wild Asses are territorial during the breeding season, with intruding males instantly treated as subordinates and kept away from any females that are ready to breed. Like domestic donkeys, the Wild Ass has a much lower fertility rate then horses, as well as a much longer gestation period. Foals will stay with their mother for a year before leaving to find their own territories, with females breeding every other year, with the species having a potential lifespan of up to 30 years (3).
Five to Save #14 - Mammalian Herbivores
Ever since mankind first decided to move from scavenging carcasses on the savannah and decided to hunt its own prey, the ranks of herbivores that roam the plains and grassland have been hunted by humanity. And while many species have been saved to be of service to humanity, more species have become extinct or are endangered due to man’s desire for meat, as well as the horde of perils brought to their homes by the modern world.
Chousingha (Tetracerus quadriconis) Status: Vulnerable
Threats: Conservation Efforts - The only true herbivore to have four horns, the Chousingha, despite its small size, is extensively hunted by trophy hunters in its native India. It’s the conservation of habitat for the Tiger (Panthera tigris) that is the biggest threat, with the species habitat being modified to suit the needs of other endangered animals rather than its own.
Persian Fallow Deer (Dama mesopotamica) Status: Endangered
Threats: Hybridization - The Persian Fallow Deer was once abundant but overhunting reduced its numbers. In addition interbreeding with the European Fallow Deer (Dama dama) has led to the species genetic individuality being destroyed. At current, only one population remains untainted by hybridization, although lack of genetic diversity is likely to be a problem in the near future (4).
Riverine Rabbit (Bunolagusmonticularis) Status: Critically Endangered
Threats: Habitat Destruction - The Riverine Rabbit is a species that has suffered from overgrazing by domestic herbivores and the removal of riverside vegetation has led to the removal of the top soil required for burrowing. Without this breeding space had become limited, and the population has been fragmented, something that will ultimately lead to genetic stagnation.
Tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis) Status: Critically Endangered
Threats: Disease - The Philippines largest herbivore, the Tamaraw has been subjected to overhunting, but now the species is more threatened by cattle ranching and the spread of the disease Rinderpest from domestic cattle (Bos taurus). With a restricted population, the spread of any pestilence could prove fatal to the species.
West Caucasian Tur (Capra caucasia) Status: Endangered
Threats: Overhunting - Despite having a limited population, the West Caucasian Tur faces widespread hunting for its large horns. In addition to competition for food with domestic grazing animals, most of the hunts in the mountains that this species lives in are targeted on this species to take the horns for trophies.
2 - Clutton-Brock, Juliet (1992). Horse Power: A History of the Horse and the Donkey in Human Societies. USA: Harvard University Press.
3 - http://www.edgeofexistence.org/mammals/species_info.php?id=13
4 - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/6232/0
1 - http://cdn1.arkive.org/media/11/118B7C6E-AC6A-453A-BB6E-58E2C3C2BCFF/Presentation.Large/Somali-wild-ass-galloping.jpg
2 - http://lh6.ggpht.com/_1wtadqGaaPs/TCiIs_oalFI/AAAAAAAAGg8/5ztWGDTuABc/tmp97_thumb_thumb1.jpg?imgmax=800
3 - http://library.sandiegozoo.org/factsheets/donkey/images/donkey.jpg
4 - http://antelopes.eu/index.files/image8302.jpg
5 - http://mczarinatb.weebly.com/uploads/2/3/8/8/23885925/3065598.jpg?572
And with that I head off for hibernation, ready to recharge and return next year. Until then make sure to critic, comment and suggest future issues as well as making sure you check past issues in Impurest’s Bestiary.