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WILD ASS - India

WILD ASS - India
Photo Information
Copyright: Mahesh Patel (ohmshivam) Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Silver Note Writer [C: 26 W: 25 N: 33] (104)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2014-12-15
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Canon eos 1000 D
Exposure: f/7.1, 1/500 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2014-12-16 0:02
Viewed: 1629
Points: 10
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Scientific Name:Equus hemionus

Range Description:

Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary also known as the Wild Ass Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Little Rann of Kutch in the Gujarat state of India. Spread over 4954 km², it is the largest wildlife sanctuary in India.
The Khur Equus hemionus khur was formerly widespread in the arid zone of northwestern India and Pakistan, westwards through much of central Asia. However, it is now limited to the Little Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, India. The khur probably went extinct in Baluchistan and the extreme south of Pakistan, on the Indian border, during the 1960s (Corbet and Hill 1992). There are some recent records of Khur along India-Pakistan border. During the last two decades Khur has shown range expansion along with an increase in their population.

China; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Mongolia; Turkmenistan

Regionally extinct:

Afghanistan; Armenia (Armenia); Azerbaijan; Georgia; Iraq; Jordan; Kuwait; Kyrgyzstan; Lebanon; Russian Federation; Syrian Arab Republic; Tajikistan; Turkey


Israel; Kazakhstan; Saudi Arabia; Ukraine; Uzbekistan


The next largest subpopulation is the Indian Khur (E. h. khur) with an estimated population in 2004 of 3,900 in the Little Rann of Kutch (Shah and Qureshi 2007). This is the only subpopulation of Asiatic Wild Ass that has had a steady increase in population size since 1976 to the present. The population increase is associated with range expansion, khur has occupied areas beyond ~200 km away from its source population in Little Rann of Kutch.

Habitat and Ecology:

Asiatic Wild Ass inhabit mountain steppe, steppe, semi-desert and desert plains. They are usually found in desert steppe. Typically they are grazers and in Mongoia (Gobi B) throughout the year they eat Stipa glareosa, Agropyron cristatum and Achnatherum (Feh 2001). They can be found in rocky or sandy areas associated with Artemisia, grasses, Anabasis spp., Russian thistle (Salsola spp.), saxaul (Haloxylon ammodendron) and pea shrubs (Caragana spp.) (Harris and Miller 1995, Feh et al. 2001). To date, there have been few detailed studies of Asiatic Wild Ass feeding ecology. However, observations suggest a feeding strategy similar to that observed in other equids in xeric environments. When grass is plentiful, Asiatic Wild Ass are predominately grazers. During dry season and in drier habitats, Asiatic Wild Ass will browse a large portion of their diet. While Asiatic Wild Ass eat woody plants, other forage is taken when possible. Animals have been observed eating seed pods (Shah 1993) and using their hooves to break up woody vegetation to obtain more succulent forbs growing at the base of the woody plants. Herds can number up to 1,200 individuals. Water sources are an important determinant of distribution; in summer months the species occurs within 10-15 km of standing water, and this range increases five-fold in winter when it is not restricted by water availability. In Mongolia, Asiatic Wild Ass have been observed digging holes as deep as 60 cm in dry riverbeds to access water, eating snow during winter as a substitute (Feh et al. 2002; Stubbe et al. 2005).

Asiatic Wild Ass weigh approximately 200–260 kg. Gestation is 11 months and breeding is seasonal. Peak birthing season occurs between April and September – within any one subpopulation, births tend to occur over a two to three month span with a peak between mid June and mid July (Feh et al 2002).

There have been a number of studies on social organisation and behavioural ecology of Asiatic asses. These studies have been conducted on several of the Asiatic Wild Ass populations throughout their range. While the explanations and terminology describing the species’ mating system do not necessarily coincide, there are similarities in the observations. In all studies, breeding is seasonal and females with young tend to group together in relatively small groups (two to five females). Descriptions of male breeding strategies differ considerably (Feh et al 2002).

Early studies were mostly descriptive. Both Solomatins and Rasheks long term studies based mostly on individual follow-ups described a harem type social structure in Turkmene Kulan harem-style behaviour (Bannikov 1958, Solomatin 1973, Rashek 1973) whereas Klingel’s one week observations described a territorial system. Bannikov’s short term survey in Mongolia described harems or family groups. Both harem-style behaviour (Bannikov 1958, Solomatin 1973, Rashek 1973) and territorial defence (Klingel 1977) social systems were described. Since 1980, several detailed studies have been carried out on various subspecies: Khur in the Little Rann of Kutch (Shah 1993), Khulan in Mongolia (Feh et al. 1994, Feh et al. 2001), and the reintroduced Kulan/Onager hybrids in Israel (Saltz and Rubenstein 1995, Saltz et al. 2000). Two studies, Shah (1993) and Saltz et al. (2000), describe systems in which individual stallions either defend territories or form all-male groups. Four social units are identified in Khur; family group, stallion, all male group and displaced stallion (Shah and Qureshi 2007). Stallions in the Rann of Kutch exhibit both seasonal and year-round territoriality with females, forming small seasonal harems (Shah 1993, Shah and Qureshi, 2007). Territorial stallions defend territories throughout the year in the Rann of Kutch. Females remain on territories during the breeding season (monsoon season), with some females remaining on one territory and others moving between territories. A few mares continue to remain on territories all year round. Shah (1993) refers to the two groupings as year-round and seasonal harems. The term “harem” maybe misleading here, as the stallion behaviour describes resource defence rather than guarding of females, and the “item” at stake is land. “the quality of the territory seems to be a prime determinant of dominance”. This is similar to territory stallion dominance witnessed in Grévy’s zebra (Ginsberg 1989). Within the Rann of Kutch, female movements were often limited to single territories, thereby creating “harem-like” female groupings (Shah 1993). However, females are able to move freely between territories, thereby describing a system in which female movement adapts to changing resource availability, as well as mate preference. Khur have territorial harem type social organization. Rainfall and productivity of food resources determine the khur recruitment and population growth rate

Major Threat(s):

The Khur (Equus hemionus khur) in the Little Rann of Kutch is the subspecies subject to the most direct threat from increasing human activities. The ecology of the Wild Ass Sanctuary, for example, is threatened by a canal building project – the Sardar Sarovar Project of the Narmada Development Authority. There is growing competition for resources as an increasing number of livestock are grazed within the reserve during monsoon season. At the same time, salt mining, the major economic industry for local people, has increased 140% since 1958. Such increased activity is particularly disruptive as the period for salt mining coincides with advanced stage of pregnancy in the Khur. The increase in Khur population and its range expansion into the human dominated landscapes has resulted in increased incidences of crop depredation. Agriculture has intensified with better irrigation facilities thus changing the land use patterns.

Conservation Actions:

Over 30% of the Khur population is ranging outside the Protected Area. The Sardar Sarovar Canal has changed the land-use patterns and the agro-economy i.e. from rain dependent crops to irrigated cash crops. Around the Rann, mitigation measures for the increasing number of wildlife and human conflicts are urgently needed. Prosopis juliflora, is an exotic shrub spreading fast across the habitat, the management needs to undertake thinning operation of this shrub for habitat improvement. Salt mining is the major economy for eight months in the year for the locals living around the Rann. This area produces 21% of India’s salt. The transportation of the salt is through well-defined routes. Presently truckers’ criss-cross through the area (habitat) thereby causing excessive damage to fragile arid grasslands (Shah 1993). The Sardar Sarovar canal has fragmented the Khur population. There is a need to evaluate possible linkages between the fragmented Khur population and its source Rann population. There is a need to understand the demography and immigration patterns of Khur in the newly occupied sites (i.e., Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, Velavadar Blackbuck National Park, areas in Bhal, Great Rann and neigbouring state of Rajasthan) (Shah 1993, 1998, 1999). The existing sanctuary infrastructure and staffing needs to be strengthened which is presently inadequate for managing a Sanctuary of 5,000 km² (Shah 1993). There is a need for disease monitoring of domestic equids and other livestock. The sanctuary was notified in 1973, and the land settlement process has been initiated. The sanctuary has been identified as a potential Natural World Heritage Site; its evaluation is pending (Gujarat Forest Department 2007). There is a need for an assessment of the status of Khur along the Indo-Pakistan border adjoining the Rann. The Wild Ass Sanctuary was identified as one of the six landscape sites in India for biodiversity conservation through improved rural livelihoods, a programme which is aided by the World Bank (Government of India 2007).

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  • Great 
  • md77 (356)
  • [2014-12-16 0:32]

Jolie photo et explications intéressantes. Amitiées

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2014-12-16 5:41]

Hello Mahesh,
Fine natural picture of this wild ass, funny the way the animal looks to the photographer. A little bit more contrast and sharpness could have improved the picture slightly, but all in all a pleasant shot.

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2014-12-16 9:05]

Hi Mahesh,a very very nice pic about a specie not often seen on TN,it seems in pose only for your and your camera like a movie star..ehehe.great capture and very good quality of sharpness and exposure too.Have a nice day and thanks,Luciano

Namaste Mahesh'Ji - Very Useful NOTE. Well captured this Wild Ass. Very true colour and sharpness. Thanks for sharing. Regards and have a nice WE - Srikumar from Kolkata

nice one, saw them last October, TFS Ori

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