ERITREA Breaking News

Birth of Critically Endangered Somali Wild Ass Sparks Hope In Chile

A zoo in Chile is now in celebration after successfully delivering a new Somali Wild Ass foal, which brings hope for the threatened endangered species.

(Photo : Wikimedia Commons/Robert Lawton)

The Buin Zoo, located on the outskirts of Santiago, the capital of Chile, said the birth of the new foal is a result of the captive breeding program.

The said zoo is an active participant in the international effort to grow the population of the Somali wild ass, which the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified as a critically endangered species.

“We’re really happy to be telling this news during such difficult times for conservation for so many species,” said Ignacio Idalsoaga, founder and director of the Buin Zoo, as reported by Reuters.

He said that the foal presented on Thursday is the fifth specimen at the zoo, adding that it was an honor for the zoo to have the capacity to reproduce the wild ass.

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Captive Breeding For Somali Wild Ass

Scientists are working together to save the population of the Somali Wild Ass through captive breeding programs in selected zoos around the world.

According to Latin Post, aside from Chile, the United States and the United Kingdom are also part of the program.

In 2019, the St. Louis Zoo in Missouri successfully started breeding them when Tobias was born, while just last year, a foal was born to mother Calula and father Sahib in the United Kingdom.

The unnamed foal is the third Somali wild ass born in Chile; the first two, Lucrecia and Ita, were born in 2021.

The IUCN has estimated that less than 200 mature animals remain in the wild, with 17 individuals found in Eritrea and Ethiopia.

The population declined by 95% in Ethiopia for the last 35 years, while it is unknown whether they are still present in Somalia.

Loss of habitat and hunting for food or medicinal purposes were some of the reasons for the Somali wild ass near extinction.

“The bones are used in soups that supposedly have medicinal characteristics that hasn’t been scientifically proven, but it’s practically brought on the extinction of a beautiful species,” Idalsoaga said.

What Are Somali Wild Ass?

The Somali wild ass is a subspecies of the African wild ass and a close relative of the zebra, as observed in their striped legs, according to Animalia.

They were once found in North Africa; however, today they only remain in the Ethiopian region of the Danakil desert and in Eritrea.

According to the San Diego Zoo, wild asses play an important part in Africa’s history, where their images have been painted in caves by ancient people from North Africa.

They are also known for being intelligent creatures with excellent vision and hearing.

Scientists observed that they would rather run from predators than fight, but if cornered, they can kick hard to protect themselves.

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