Appearance of the Somali wild ass
The Somali wild ass’ size, gray color, and large ears make it look very similar to the common donkey. However, it is characterized by its peculiar stripes on its legs, which are similar to the zebra’s stripes. It sometimes also has a thin shoulder-height line.
The Nubian wild ass (Equus africanus africanus), the other subspecies of African wild ass, does not have these stripes. Instead, it has a dark cross on its flank. However, the lack of sightings in the areas where it usually lives and the fact that they are not living in captivity anywhere in the world leads people to think that it may have gone extinct a few decades ago, though the Gebel Elba National Park in Egypt states that they have the last population of Nubian wild asses in the world.
On the other hand, the Atlas wild ass (Equus africanus atlanticus), has been extinct since Roman times due to intensive hunting.
One interesting fact is that the donkey or domestic donkey (Equus africanus asinus) are descended from African wild asses, which were domesticated for the first time at the beginning of the 5th millennium b.c.
Habitat of the Somali wild ass
Its habitat consists of arid and semiarid areas of scrubland and pasture, as this animal is adapted to areas with scarce water. Some of the areas where it has been spotted in recent decades are the Nugaal Valley in Somalia, the Dankalia region of Eritrea, and the Danakil Desert and Awash River valley in Ethiopia.
Diet of the Somali wild ass
The Somali wild ass is an herbivore that eats a wide variety of grasses. Given the aridity of its habitat, its digestive system is adapted to extract the greatest amount of water out of its food. It also searches for food during the early hours of the morning and at dusk, when it is coolest.
Behavior of the Somali wild ass
Groups of Somali wild asses include females and their young, although once a mother is again in a period of gestation, they tend to live apart. They communicate through braying that can be heard for miles around.
Unfortunately, there are many reasons why this subspecies is in danger. The biggest problem the Somali wild ass faces in the wild is that it is hunted for food and traditional medicine. In addition, climate change, the impact of humans, and livestock are also a direct threat to the Equus africanus somalicus.
Reproduction of the Somali wild ass
Gestation lasts for around one year and the offspring tends to weigh about 55 pounds. It will stay with the mother for at least a year. As with other equines, twins are very rare. Somali wild asses can live for more than 20 years.