DistributionPersian wild asses are known to inhabit mountain steppes, semidesert, or desert plains. They are usually found in desert steppes. Their largest population is found in Khar Turan National Park.
StatusAsiatic wild asses are highly and legally protected; hunting them is forbidden. The European Endangered Species Programme reserved for European Association of Zoos and Aquaria is helping save the Persian onager from extinction, by breeding them in captivity and reintroducing them to their former ranges, including in new locations once inhabited by Syrian onagers in Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Ukraine.
On August 30, 2014, Iranian officials reported that three Persian onagers were born in Khar Turan National Park reserve near Shahroud in Semnan province, where it also has the largest populations of the equids.
PredatorsThe Persian onager is listed as endangered by IUCN Red List, as it is close to extinction. Currently, poaching for meat and hides, competition with livestock, and drought are the greatest threats to this species.
EvolutionThe Persian onager is also simply named "gur" meaning "zebra" in Persian. "Onager" is from the Greek "ὄναγρος", meaning "wild ass".
Sometimes, the term "onager" is reserved specifically for this subspecies. However, as the whole species of the Asiatic wild ass is known simply as onager, it now also serves as the Persian wild ass's scientific name, as well. Information on the basic biology of the subspecies and how it differs from others is lacking, which hampers conservation efforts.
Onagers used to be numerous from the Middle East to China. However, until the 19th century, their population has been reduced from several thousand to a few thousand. Currently, more than 600 Persian onagers are living in the wild.
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