The Persian onager is a subspecies of Asiatic wild ass native to the desert of Iran. They have a pale, sandy-red coat with a light brown dorsal stripe. Their tails are short with a small tuft of hair at the end. The flanks, back, and underside are white in color. During the winter, the coat grows longer and becomes grayer.
Persian onagers are found in Iran and their largest population is found in Khar Turan National Park. These animals live in mountain steppes, semidesert, or desert plains.
Persian onagers are social creatures and live in herds. Older males may stay solitary. Females live in herds consisting of other females and young. A male usually guards its main territory, and groups of females migrate between these guarded territories or stay in one guarded territory. Immature males sometimes form all-male groups before they attain reproductive maturity. Persian onagers are diurnal and prefer to feed during the cooler parts of the day. In order to communicate with each other, these animals use sounds, scents and tactile and visual forms of communication.
Persian onagers are polygynous and a dominant male mates with more than one female in the herd. The breeding season takes place in mid-June. During this time Persian onagers exhibit two interesting breeding behaviors. In one, females move between guarded territories that are held by the dominant males. In second behavior, one dominant male has a harem of females; he guards these females and breeds with them. The gestation period lasts around 365-368 days after which a single foal is born. Females usually leave the herd to give birth in a safe place. A newborn foal can run shortly after birth and the mother and her young quickly return to the herd. The mother nurses her offspring for two years and which time the foal becomes independent. Females become reproductively mature when they are 2 years old. Males reach reproductive maturity one year later.
Main threats to Persian onagers include poaching for meat and hides, competition with livestock, and drought. These animals also suffer from the loss of their habitat due to the expansion of human settlements and cultivation, overgrazing, and limited access to open water sources.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of Persian onagers is around 790 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are stable.
Due to their grazing habits, Persian onagers impact vegetation communities in the ecosystem they live in.