Institut für Biologie der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg


Date of this Version


Document Type



Erforschung biologischer Ressourcen der Mongolei (2007) band 10: 261-266.


Copyright 2007, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle Wittenberg, Halle (Saale). Used by permission.


The Syrian wild ass (Equus hemionus hemippus) lived in Israel in historic times until the 1930s, when it disappeared from the entire Middle East region. Khulans from other subspecies (E. h. onager - six individulas and E. h. kulan - five individuals) were brought to Israel from European zoos during 1968-69 (the authors of project considered that onager and kulan were the same subspecies) and these animals bred together in the semi-captivity conditions of the Haibar Yotvata Reserve. Later, during a 12-year period from 1982 through 1993, six groups totalling 38 khulans (17 males and 21 females) were realized in the Negev Desert. These groups had quite low success rates in establishing viable, breeding population following release because of several mistakes made during the project. First, all were realized during spring, which due to the local conditions of vegetation, watering places and weather in the Negev Desert, was the wrong season; late autumn and winter would have been much more suitable for this purpose. Second, many groups had too many males creating the wrong male to female ratio. Third, individuals for realizing were too adult. Fourth, groups were held in pre-release enclosures less than 5-6 months, which didn’t allow for acclimation and creating new social structure. And fifth, individuals were only evaluated based on genetics, while social behavioral traits were not taken into consideration. The result of these mistakes was difficulty in establishing a cohesive, stable population and an initially slow population growth. Over time, however, they became more successful, at the beginning of project, though over time it became more successful and currently there are about 100 khulans in the wild population. Asiatic wild asses are still kept in the semi-captivity conditions of the Haibar Yotvata Reserve, where they live with other ungulate species. A number of interspecific aggressive interactions between khulans and other species have been observed.