The genus Equus , which includes all extant equines, is believed to have evolved from Dinohippus via the intermediate form Plesippus. One of the oldest species is Equus simplicidens , described as zebra-like with a donkey-shaped head. The oldest fossil to date is about 3. The genus appears to have spread quickly into the Old World, with the similarly aged Equus livenzovensis documented from western Europe and Russia.
Molecular phylogenies indicate the most recent common ancestor of all modern equids members of the genus Equus lived around 5. Direct paleogenomic sequencing of a ,year-old middle Pleistocene horse metapodial bone from Canada implies a more recent 4. Asinus , including the kulan , onager, and kiang , followed by the African zebras subgenera E. Dolichohippus , and E. All other modern forms including the domesticated horse and many fossil Pliocene and Pleistocene forms belong to the subgenus E.
Equus which diverged about 4. The onagers' favored habitats consist of desert plains, semideserts, oases , arid grasslands, savannahs, shrublands , steppes, mountainous steppes, and mountain ranges. The Turkmenian kulan and Mongolian wild asses are known to live in hot and colder deserts. The IUCN estimates about 28, mature individuals in total remain in the wild. During the late Pleistocene era around 40, years ago, the Asiatic wild ass ranged widely across Europe and in southwestern to northeastern Asia.
The Mongolian wild ass lives in deserts, mountains, and grasslands of Mongolia and Inner Mongolian region of northern China. A few live in northern Xinjiang region of northwestern China, most of which live mainly in Kalamaili Nature Reserve. It is the most common subspecies, but its populations have drastically decreased to a few thousand due to years of poaching and habitat loss in East Asia. The Gobi Desert is the onager's main stronghold. It is regionally extinct in eastern Kazakhstan, southern Siberia, and the Manchurian region of China.
The Indian wild ass was once found throughout the arid parts and desert steppes of northwest India and Pakistan, but about 4, of them are found in a few very hot wildlife sanctuaries of Gujarat. The Persian onager is found in two subpopulations in southern and northern Iran.
The larger population is found at Khar Turan National Park. However, it is extinct in the wild of Afghanistan. The Turkmenian kulan used to be widespread in central to north Asia. However, it is now found in Turkmenistan and has been reintroduced in southern Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Like most equids, onagers are social animals. Stallions are either solitary or live in groups of two or three. The males have been observed holding harems of females, but in other studies, the dominant stallions defend territories that attract females. Differences in behaviour and social structure likely are the result of changes in climate, vegetation cover, predation, and hunting.
The social behavior of the Asian wild ass can vary widely, depending on different habitats and ranges, and on threats by predators including humans. In Mongolia and Central Asia E. Also, annual large hikes occur, covering 4. Onagers also occasionally form large group associations of to 1, individuals, but this usually only occurs in places with food or water sources. As these larger groups dissolve again within a day, no overarching hierarchy apart from the ranking of the individual herds seems to exist.
Young male onagers also frequently form "bachelor groups" during the winter. Such a lifestyle is also seen in the wild horse, the plains zebras E. Southern populations of onagers in the Middle East and South Asia tend to have a purely territorial life, where areas partly overlap.
Dominant stallions have home ranges of 9 km 2 3. These territories include food and rest stops and permanent or periodic water sources. The waters are usually at the edge of a coalfield [ clarification needed ] and not in the center. Mares with foals sometimes find themselves in small groups, in areas up to 20 km 2 7. The Asian wild ass is sexually mature at two years old, and the first mating usually takes place at three to four years old. Breeding is seasonal, and the gestation period of onagers is 11 months; the birth lasts a little more than 10 minutes.
Mating and births occur from April to September, with an accumulation from June to July. The mating season in India is in the rainy season. The foal can stand and starts to nurse within 15 to 20 minutes. Females with young tend to form groups of up to five females. During rearing, a foal and dam remain close, but other animals and her own older offspring are displaced by the dam. Occasionally, stallions in territorial wild populations expel the young to mate with the mare again.
Wild Asian wild asses reach an age of 14 years, but in captivity, they can live up to 26 years. Like all equids, onagers are herbivorous mammals. They eat grasses , herbs , leaves , fruits , and saline vegetation when available, but browse on shrubs and trees in drier habitats. They have also been seen feeding on seed pods such as Prosopis and breaking up woody vegetation with their hooves to get at more succulent herbs growing at the base of woody plants.
During the winter, onagers also eat snow as a substitute for water. When natural water sources are unavailable, the onager digs holes in dry riverbeds to reach subsurface water. The water holes dug by the onagers are often subsequently visited by domestic livestock, as well as other wild animals.
Water is also found in the plants on which the onagers feed. During spring and summer in Mongolia, the succulent plants of the Zygophyllaceae form an important component of the diet of the Mongolian wild ass. The onager is preyed upon by predators such as Persian leopards and striped hyenas.
A few cases of onager deaths due to predation by leopards were recorded in Iran. Though leopards do not usually feed on equids as in Africa , this may be because Persian leopards are larger and strong enough to prey on Asiatic wild asses.
In the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent, Asiatic lions and tigers were the main predators of onagers. They were also formerly preyed upon by dholes , Asiatic cheetahs , and possibly bears , though they may have mostly preyed only on onager foals. Currently, the main predator for onagers are gray wolves.
However, like most equids, they are known to have antipredator behaviour. Groups of stallions cooperate and try to chase off predators. If threatened, onagers defend themselves and violently kick at the incoming predator. The greatest threat facing the onager is poaching for meat and hides, and in some areas for use in traditional medicine. It [ clarification needed ] is the one of highest threats for the Mongolian wild ass.
The extreme isolation of many subpopulations also threatens the species, as genetic problems can result from inbreeding. Overgrazing by livestock reduces food availability, and herders also reduce the availability of water at springs. The cutting down of nutritious shrubs and bushes exacerbates the problem. Furthermore, a series of drought years could have devastating effects on this beleaguered species. Habitat loss and fragmentation are also major threats to the onager, a particular concern in Mongolia as a result of the increasingly dense network of roads, railway lines, and fences required to support mining activities.
The Asiatic wild ass is also vulnerable to diseases. A disease known as the "South African horse sickness" caused a major decline to the Indian wild ass population in the s. However, the subspecies is no longer under threat to such disease and is continuously increasing in number. Various breeding programs have been started for the onager subspecies in captivity and in the wild, which increases their numbers to save the endangered species.
The species is legally protected in many of the countries in which it occurs. The priority for future conservation measures is to ensure the protection of this species in particularly vulnerable parts of its range, to encourage the involvement of local people in the conservation of the onager, and to conduct further research into the behavior, ecology, and taxonomy of the species.
Two onager subspecies, the Persian onager and the Turkmenian kulan are being reintroduced to their former ranges, including in other regions the Syrian wild ass used to occur in the Middle East. The two subspecies have been reintroduced to the wild of Israel since , and had been breeding hybrids there,  whilst the Persian onager alone has been reintroduced to Jordan and the deserts of Saudi Arabia.
Onagers are notoriously untamable. Equids were used in ancient Sumer to pull wagons c. Clutton-Brock suggests that these were donkeys rather than onagers on the basis of a "shoulder stripe". In the Hebrew Bible there is a reference to the onager in Job Who freed the wild donkey, loosed the ropes of the onager? From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Species of mammal. This article is about the Equid species.
For the weapon, see Onager weapon. Temporal range: 4. Conservation status. Pallas , See also: Evolution of the horse. This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.
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Find Arab ass stock images in HD and millions of other royalty-free stock photos, illustrations and vectors in the Shutterstock collection. Syrian wild asses were preyed upon by Asiatic lions, Arabian leopards, striped hyenas, Syrian brown bears, Arabian wolves, and Caspian tigers. The onager also known as hemione or Asiatic wild ass, is a species of the family Equidae the extinct Syrian wild ass in the Arabian Peninsula, Israel and Jordan.