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Indian wild ass

Equus hemionus khur also called the khur of the onager native to Southern Asia.

Description

The Indian wild ass, as with most other Asian wild ass subspecies, is quite different from theAfrican wild ass species. The coat is usually sandy, but varies from reddish grey, fawn, to pale chestnut. The animal possesses an erect, dark mane which runs from the back of the head and along the neck. The mane is then followed by a dark brown stripe running along the back, to the root of the tail.

Range and habitat

The Indian wild ass's range once extended from western India, southern Pakistan (i.e. provinces of Sindh and Baluchistan), Afghanistan, and south-eastern Iran. Today, its last refuge lies in the Indian Wild Ass SanctuaryLittle Rann of Kutch and its surrounding areas of the Great Rann of Kutch in the Gujarat province of India. The animal, however, is also seen in the districts of SurendranagarBanaskanthaMehsana, and other Kutch districts. Saline deserts (rann), arid grasslands and shrublands are its preferred environments. [1][2]Map of Gujarat showing the Little Rann of Kutch and Great Rann of Kutch

Range extension in recent years

It seems to be increasing in numbers and extending its range from Little Rann of Kutch, where the world's last population of this subspecies had got confined to in recent years, and has gradually started moving out and colonizing Greater Rann of Kutch also extending into the neighboring Indian State of Rajasthan in the bordering villages in Jalore district bordering the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. Gujarat’s supposed monopoly over this sub-species, also referred to as Khur (Equus hemionus khur) has thus been broken. Within Rajasthan it has started making its presence felt in Khejariali and its neighbourhood where a 60 km2 area was transferred to the Rajasthan Forest Department by the revenue authorities in 2007. At this place Rebaris (camel and sheep breeders) live in the Prosopis juliflora jungles in the company of chinkaras, hyenas, common fox, desert cat and wolf etc.Wild asses graze between dawn and dusk. The animal feeds on grass, leaves and fruits of plant, crop, Prosopis pods, and saline vegetation. It is one of the fastest of Indian animals, with speeds clocked at about 70 – 80 km. per hour and can easily outrun a jeep. Stallions live either solitarily, or in small groups of twos and threes while family herds remain large. Mating season is in rainy season. When a mare comes into heat, she separates from the herd with a stallion who battles against rivals for her possession. After few days, the pair returns to the herd. The mare gives birth to one foal. The male foal weans away by 1–2 years of age, while the female continues to stay with the family herd.

Threats and conservation

It is unknown how the Indian wild ass disappeared from its former haunts in parts of western India and Pakistan, since the animal was never a hunting target of IndianMaharajas and colonial British officials and noblemen from the time took great pleasure in hunting it.

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