The Transcaspian Elusiveness of the Wild Ass

A Kiang is the Brad Pitt of wild-asses

Wild-asses are simply mean little horses that can pretty much learn to digest whatever vegetation they were born next to… and this might even include fire engines. Their habitat, as if you really need it clarified, is anywhere with enough to graze on; so, don’t expect them to be swinging through the jungles or scuttling at the bottom of the ocean. It may seem as if they have a lot of different habitats, but that is only because there are so many synonyms for “grassland”. If they look familiar, remember that the only thing that keeps them from being domesticated donkeys is the lack of a fence and the invention of the pickup truck.

At around six feet in length and six to seven hundred pounds, the wild-ass may not be hauling large loads of cargo anymore, but, under the right circumstances they make great buffet tables. Although, if you have a hardwood floor, I’d put casters or maybe hand towels under those sharp little hooves. At around forty-five miles per hour, the wild-ass probably runs faster than your grandmother drives. And, predators usually give a healthy one a wide berth because they can kick like a mule… or, as a mule might say, “I can kick like my daddy!”. Okay, maybe a mule wouldn’t say that, but he also isn’t going to give a forty-five minute lecture on metaphysics and morality, either.

Officially, there are three species of wild-ass. Unofficially, there are about a dozen species because unofficial counts include ponies, big dogs and people in Halloween costumes. Officially, there is the African Wild-ass (equus africanus), the Onager (equus hemionus) and the Kiang (equus kiang). Within these species, zoologists have created several subspecies because that beats actually working for a living.

Somali Wild-ass, later that year…

African Wild-asses have large territories which they mark with dung because traffic cones are almost impossible to find. They live mostly in the arid northwest of Africa. It isn’t the crappiest part of Africa; but, if you stand on a chair, you can SEE the crappiest part of Africa from there. Most wild-ass herds have a maximum of one male; however, because the territories of the African Wild-asses are so vast, they have to include non-dominant males in the herd. The beta males are kept in their place by having to hold the purses of the female asses while they are shoe-shopping…

What has striped legs and lives in Somalia? Well, that would be either a very lost Okapi or the subspecies, Somali Wild-ass. The Somali Wild-ass is critically endangered, like any protein source in that part of Africa. In the United States, four zoos have Somali Wild-ass breeding programs which is four zoos more than I would’ve guessed.

The Nubian Wild-ass might be extinct. It might not be extinct. Zoologists have narrowed it down to these two possibilities. In Eritrea, they don’t seem to be a thing any more; however, there is a possibility that the species continues to exist on the Caribbean island of Bonaire. Maybe, it swam over at night when no one was looking. Currently, the methodology of the DNA tests is considered suspect and a “wild-ass guess”; however, if the DNA testing is proven conclusive, then the species will probably be safe until someone figures out a way to make a tropical drink out of them. Their current status is “Extinct, Presumed Vacationing”…

The Atlas Wild-ass is probably all the way extinct. In ancient times, Romans organized hunts of this animal possibly because they had found a way to bottle and use the agonized cries of their young. These asses ranged around the Atlas Mountains and possibly as far east as Morocco. Zoologists are currently scanning all islands in the Caribbean for one of these creatures; or, if one cannot be found, a Miss Hawaiian Tropic contest.

An Onager doing her impersonation of a horse.

The Onager, besides being the only acceptable anagram for “orange”, is the most horse-like of all the wild-ass species. It’s less horse-like than the horse, but horses have been at it longer. Its ears are smaller and it doesn’t have those ridiculous stripes. But, it is still, for all practical purposes, a strutting ass. Their coat is more reddish than that of their African cousins, which makes it easier if they want to cos-play as Bambi.

The onager ranges as far west as Israel and as far east as Siberia. You can find them in every crappy area between those two points. They are a little larger than the African Wild-ass, so if you try to get the two species together for a photograph, you’ll know who to seat in front. They might amass themselves into gigantic herds or small groups of three… Actually, you kind of get the impression that onagers don’t know WHAT the hell they are doing when it comes to social structure.

Some onager subspecies are…

The Persian Onager is called a “gur” by Iranians, probably because that’s the sound wild dogs make before they lunch on one. The population of Persian onagers is very low due to poaching. Apparently, the liver of a Persian onager is thought to have medicinal properties. Efforts are being made to protect the subspecies and to breed them in such a way that they don’t have livers…

The Transcaspian Wild-ass is large for a wild ass but small for an ocean liner. It has been a protected species since 1919, when the USSR officially declared it off limits. This policy was effective up until Stalin had the bulk of them shot for espionage in the late forties. Around seven thousand of the Transcaspian Wild-asses exist, mostly in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, where existence is preferred over extinction by just the barest of margins…

The onager nominate species, the Mongolian Wild-ass is near threatened but presumed innocent. Encroaching livestock and poaching have thinned out its numbers; but, on the plus side, the Mongolian wild ass is fully protected in Mongolia. They don’t show up in zoos much because they have the charisma of a plate of day-old biscuits…

The Indian Wild Ass is one of the fastest of India’s animals, the fastest being anything chased by a king cobra at the time. Males breed with females during the breeding season, then move apart from the herd due to the fact that they get tired of the females’ nonsense. Their population has been greatly reduced by Surra, a disease transmitted by flies and vampire bats but their population still looks pretty promising. They are classified as “near threatened” which is like some guy in a bar telling you that he is going to punch your back fence.

The Syrian Wild Ass was the smallest of the equine species until 1927 when the last one was shot at an oasis by someone standing his ground. If you see an ass in the Bible, it was probably this one.

The Kiang is also known as the “gorkhar”, the “kyhang” or the “kablammo!”. Its least ridiculous name is Tibetan Wild-ass. It is the largest of the wild-asses and cuter than a pile of pillows. They range from India into Nepal and Tibet. They look like all the other wild-asses, only more focused. Even wolves give them a wide berth, although if given the opportunity to eat one culled from the herd, it would be rude to refuse.

The Kiang’s conservation status is “least concern” which either means that there are a whole bunch of them, or that they did something to piss off the IUCN and they literally just don’t care about the entire species. Not really a group you want to get on the bad side of…

And, this is all you need to know about the wild-asses of Africa, Asia and possibly the Caribbean. I want to raise awareness. I want everyone in America to own one. In fact, I have this recurring fantasy about a young woman, walking her onager past a construction site. One of the workers calls out to her, “Hey! Nice ass!”. The woman turns and smiles and says, “Thanks, he’s Transcaspian”…

Liked this one?  Here’s one on the Glass Frog

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