Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Kiang

Equus kiang
The Kiang is the largest species of Wild Ass in the world, and can be found in the Tibetan Plateau where it lives in the mountainous grassland steppes and meadows. There are three location-based subspecies, with the Eastern Kiang being the largest of the group.

Kiangs stand at around 13.5 hands, which makes them about the size of a large pony. (Horses tend to be designated as Equines over 14.2 hands). Despite this, they are still the largest Wild Asses, standing over 6in taller than their smallest relative- the Somali Wild Ass. They have coats that change with the season-- darker and shaggier in winter, and sleeker and more chestnut-colored in the summer. During all times of the year they have pale underparts and a thick, dark brown dorsal stripe.

Kiangs live in herds that can grow to incredibly large sizes-- up to 500 individuals! These groups are typically led by a older female, and they travel in tight, cohesive groups while searching for food. The breeding season takes place in August and September, and at that time males will fight each other over breeding rights, and will fiercely guard their females. Gestation lasts about a year, and females will breed again not long after giving birth.

In nature, the Kiang has only one predator-- the wolf. Humans have long hunted them as well, using the Asses for their meat and skin. This hunted as reduced the overall range of the Kiang, but the population size is large enough that it is listed as being of Least Concern for the time being. Additional conservation concerns include habitat loss and competition from livestock.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : China (Tibet), Nepal
Size : Shoulder height up to 13.5hands (54in, 1.4m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order: Perissodactyla
Family : Equidae -- Genus : Equus -- Species : E. kiang

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