Skip to Main Content
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance logo
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Library logo

African Wild Ass (Equus africanus) & Domesticated Donkey (Equus asinus) Fact Sheet: Distribution & Habitat


Populations of wild asses (E. africanus) originally in North Africa from Morocco to Somalia and perhaps western Asia (Clutton-Brock 1981)

  • Found in wild today only in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia (IUCN Red List 2008)
  • Uncertain in Egypt; Sudan (IUCN Red List 2008)
  • Occupy some 23,000 sq km (8,880 sq mi ) (IUCN Red List 2014)

Domesticated and escaped feral donkeys are found world-wide.

  • Large feral populations in western Australia, estimated at 1.5 million in 1983. (Nowak 1999)
  • Populations in Death Valley (California and Nevada) nearly eliminated by BLM
  • 88,000 wild horses and burros in 10 western U.S. states.
  • Donkey populations, world-wide, especially in Africa, Asia, Latin America are increasing (Starkey & Starkey 1997)


African Wild Asses live in arid and semi-arid bush/shrub land, grassland, and desert (IUCN 2008 Red List)

  • Inhabit the volcanic and stony Great Rift Valley of Eritrea and Ethiopia from below sea level to 2,000 m (6562 ft)
  • Marginal desert land; adapted to areas that are arid at least seasonally. (Forstén 1988)
  • Desert habitat in Eritrea and Ethiopia suffers from severe frequent droughts.

Distribution Map

Wild Ass distribution map


African Wild Ass distribution.

Adapted from according to IUCN fact sheet. Click here or on map for detailed distribution (IUCN).


Page Citations

Clutton-Brock (1981)
Forstén (1988)

IUCN Red List (2008)
Nowak (1999)
Starkey & Starkey (1997)

SDZWA Library Links