Equus kiangkiang

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Geographic Range

Equus kiang are wildly distributed in Tibet, Tsinghai and Szechwan regions of China, Nepal, and India. Three subspecies have been assigned to populations in different ranges, but this is still controversial.

Habitat

E. kiang live in alpine grass lands of elevation range from 4000 m to 7000 m. They prefer dry open areas including desert, semidesert, or steppe. Annual precipitation is from 60 mm to 70 mm.

  • Range elevation
    4000 to 7000 m
    13123.36 to 22965.88 ft

Physical Description

Equus kiang is the largest wild ass species in the world. Kiang lengths are about 210 cm, shoulder heights are about 140 cm, tail lengths are 50 cm, and body weights are 250 to 440 kg. Their pelage changes with season. They are usually reddish in summer and dark brown in winter. In summer the coat is shorter and thinner, while the winter coat is long and thick. Equus kiang look more like horses than asses because of their short ears and large tail tufts. They are very similar to Equus hemionus genetically and physically. The mitochondrial DNA divergence between the 2 species is only 1%, and the divergence probably arose less than 500,000 years ago. Their running speed is slightly slower than E. hemionus.

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    250 to 440 kg
    550.66 to 969.16 lb
  • Average length
    210 cm
    82.68 in

Reproduction

Male E. kiang mob females and guard them from rival males. Single males follow the female herds and fight for breeding rights.

The breeding season is from August to September. Gestation takes almost a year, and thus young are usually born in late July to August when food is plentiful. One young is born at each birth. The baby can walk a few hours after birth. Weaing takes place after about a year, and it takes another year to reach sexual maturity.

  • Breeding season
    August-September
  • Average number of offspring
    1
  • Average gestation period
    12 months
  • Average gestation period
    299 days
    AnAge
  • Average weaning age
    12 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 years

Lifespan/Longevity

About 20 years.

  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    30.1 years
    AnAge

Behavior

E. kiang usually form family groups of 5-400 animals. The group is led by an old female, and is tightly cohesive. The group may travel long distances in search of food.

E. kiang are good swimmers. During summer they are often observed bathing in rivers. They are active nocturnally and they feed primarily at night.

They may gain 40-45 kg during the vegetation growth season in August to September.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

E. kiang feed mainly on grasses and short plants. They especially feed on forbs (Stipa spp.), which are widely distributed and plentiful. Their feeding areas sometimes overlap with those of domestic sheep during summer, but they do not complete for food significantly.

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves

Predation

Only wolves prey on wild asses in nature. However, going back to the early 1900s, they have been hunted for meat and skins. Since the hunting started, the geographic distribution of E. kiang has been reduced.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

The wild asses are hunted for meat and for their skins, which are used for making leather.

  • Positive Impacts
  • food

Conservation Status

Undetermined (IUCN, 1996).

Lower risk (IUCN, 2000).

However, habitat loss and competition for food sources with livestocks could put them at risk. In some areas, poaching pressure still exists.

Contributors

Hui-Yu Wang (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Bret Weinstein (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Palearctic

living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

colonial

used loosely to describe any group of organisms living together or in close proximity to each other - for example nesting shorebirds that live in large colonies. More specifically refers to a group of organisms in which members act as specialized subunits (a continuous, modular society) - as in clonal organisms.

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.

dominance hierarchies

ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

folivore

an animal that mainly eats leaves.

food

A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

mountains

This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nocturnal

active during the night

oriental

found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

polygynous

having more than one female as a mate at one time

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

tundra

A terrestrial biome with low, shrubby or mat-like vegetation found at extremely high latitudes or elevations, near the limit of plant growth. Soils usually subject to permafrost. Plant diversity is typically low and the growing season is short.

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born

References

2000. "Donkey (Ass)" (On-line). Accessed Nov 19, 2001 at http://www.blm.gov/nstc/resourcenotes/respdf/RN24.pdf.

Harris, R., D. Miller. 1995. Overlap in summer habitats and diets of Tibetan plateau ungulates. Mammalia, 59(2): 197-212.

Harris, R., D. Pletscher, C. Loggers, D. Miller. 1999. Status and trends of Tibetan plateau mammalian fauna, Yeniugou, China. Biological Conservation, 87(1): 13-19.

Huffman, B. 2004. "Kiang, Tibetan Wild Ass" (On-line). Accessed August 8, 2006 at http://www.ultimateungulate.com/Perissodactyla/Equus_kiang.html.

Julka, J., J. Alfred, H. Mehta, R. Paliwal. 1999. "Status survey of Kiang (Tibetan wild ass) in Ladakh" (On-line). Accessed Nov 19, 2001 at http://envfor.nic.in/news/sep99/kiang.htm.

Mallon, D. 1991. Status and conservation of large mammals in Ladakh. Biological Conservation, 56(1): 101-119.

Moehlman, P. 2000. Conservation issues for wild zebra, asses, and horses in Africa and Asia. Resource Notes, 24: 1-2.

Ryder, O., L. Chemnick. 1990. Chromosomal and molcular evolution in Asiatic wild asses. Genetica, 83(1): 67-72.