KIANG – Equus kiang

KIANG

Kiang facts: This medium-sized wild ass stands between 3.3 and 4.7 feet (1 and 1.4 meters) and has a coat that changes with the seasons. It is dark brown in winter and chestnut red in summer. To keep warm, the length of the hair doubles in winter. The belly is white, and there are patches of white on the neck, chest, and shoulder. The muzzle, too, is white.

Geographic range: The kiang (kee-YANG) lives in China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan.

Kiang habitat: This wild ass is found in altitudes up to 16,500 feet (5,000 meters) in grasslands and steppes (regions characterized by grasses and shrubs, with few or no trees).

What does kiang eat: The kiang eats primarily grasses and low shrubs.

Behavior and reproduction: Kiang live in close-knit herds ranging from 5 to 400 individuals, which do not scatter. The herd, composed of females and offspring, is led by an older female, and they travel in single file. The herd seems to move in unison (as one), whether they’re drinking, eating, or running. Unlike other horse species, kiang do not physically touch one another. They are strong swimmers and enjoy spending hot summer days in water.

Male kiang begin following the female herds in July, and breeding takes place in August. After a year-long gestation (pregnancy) period, females form breakaway herds of two to five and retreat to nearby rocky areas to give birth to single foals. The foals thrive on mother’s milk for the first year, after which time they become independent. Kiang live to be around twenty years of age; the main predator is the wolf.

Kiang and people: Kiang are hunted for their meat in some areas.

Conservation status: The kiang is listed as threatened by the IUCN. Kiang populations are most threatened by commercial hunting, habitat destruction, and competition for food and water.