African Wild Ass - Conservation Status

Conservation Status

Though the species itself is under no threat of extinction, due to abundant domestic stock (donkey and burros), the two extant wild subspecies are both listed as critically endangered. African wild asses have been captured for domestication for centuries, and this, along with interbreeding between wild and domestic animals, has caused a distinct decline in population numbers. There are now only a few hundred individuals left in the wild. These animals are also hunted for food and for traditional medicine in both Ethiopia and Somalia, where recent civil unrest has led to an increased number of weapons in circulation. Competition with domestic livestock for grazing, and restricted access to water supplies caused by agricultural developments, pose further threats to the survival of this species. The African wild ass is legally protected in the countries where it is currently found, although these measures often prove difficult to enforce. A protected population of the Somali wild ass exists in the Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve in Israel, to the north of Eilat. This reserve was established in 1968 with the view to bolster populations of endangered desert species. Populations of horses and asses are fairly resilient, and if the species is properly protected it may well recover from its current low.

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