Saturday, May 11, 2013

O is for ONAGER

The Onager (Equus heminous) is ENDANGERED according to its conservation status.

The Onager is a wild member of the genus Equus of the family Equidae (horse family), native to the deserts of Syria, Iran, Pakistan, India, Israel and Tibet.  They are a little larger than donkeys and a little more horse-like.  They have a body length between 2-2.5 m (96.5-8.25 ft), a tail length between 30-49 cms (12-19.5 inches) and weigh between 200=260 kgs (440-750 lbs).

Like many large grazing animals, its range has contracted greatly under pressures of poaching and habitat loss.  They are notoriously untameable and yet they were used in ancient *Sumer to pull wagons circa 2600 BC and then chariots on the **Standard of Ur in circa 2000 BC.

They are short-legged compared to horses and their colouring depends on the season.  They are generally reddish-brown in colour during summer, becoming yellowish-brown in the winter months.  They have a black stripe bordered in white that extends down the middle of the back.  They can be found in west, central and southern Asia.  They eat a variety of vegetation including grasses and succulent plants.

The Onager is also known as the Asian Wild Ass and there are several sub-species some of which are vulnerable and one of which is extinct.  That was the Syrian Wild Ass which inhabited the mountains, desert and steppes of Syria.  The last one died in Schonbrunn Zoo in 1928 and is officially declared extinct.

*Sumer meaning approximately 'land of the civilized kings" or "native land" was an ancient civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq, during the Chalcolitic and Early Bronze Age.  It was extimated to have first been settled between ca 4500 and 4000 BC by a non-Semitic people who may or may not have spoken the Sumerian language.

**Standard of Ur is a Sumerian artifact excavated from what had been the Royal cemetery in the ancient city of Ur (located in modern day Iraq south of Baghdad).  It is approximately 4,500 years old and was probably constructed in the form of a hollow box with scenes of war and peace represented on each side through elaborately inlaid mosaics. It is now on display in the British Museum in London.

I found this little fellow extremely interesting and I learnt some history as well.


  1. Replies
    1. Yes the history intrigued me too. x

  2. Gorgeous - and another sad one. Can we please, please have a post about something which isn't endangered? I think I want to bury my head in the sand - so ignore that request.
    This is a wonderful, education, sobering series of posts.

    1. I feel that too and yet these creatures need our thoughts. I am sure there must be a happy one coming up soon or have we behaved so badly on this planet that there is little hope left for so many poor animals?
      I am glad though that you are enjoying these posts as much as I am enjoying researching each one and I only hope I have got the facts right. I've sought information from various web sites so between them I think they should be reasonably accurate.
      ....and please, no burying that head of yours in the sand!!! : )

  3. Another endangered? People...what are we doing to this planet?

  4. I hadn't realised until I began these posts just how many poor creatures were on the brink of extinction or at least severely endangered. Some would call it progress but not when so much damage is being done to the planet and its creatures.