Photo Credit: Patricia D. Moehlman

Conservation of the Critically Endangered African Wild Ass in the State of Eritrea



The African Wild Ass (Equus africanus) is the world's most endangered equid and listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. This species persist in one of the harshest climates and terrains in the world, where they share and may compete for resources with local people and livestock. 

In Eritrea there may be fewer than 400 African Wild Ass remaining. The species is under threat from competing use of resources, notably water and pasture, with humans and livestock. The lack of trained wildlife personnel and demarcated protected areas for the conservation of the species also poses a risk to its survival.


The project aims to:

  1. Build capacity for protection of the species through recruiting, training, and equipping community Scouts. They will act to conserve the African Wild Ass by mitigating competition with livestock and increasing community awareness about these endangered wild equids;
  2. Establish a protected area for African Wild Ass on the Messir Plateau based on scientific data on suitable habitat for the species. The area will be mapped based on results from direct species observations on the ground, non-invasive sampling and analysis of remote sensing data;
  3. Workshops with natural resource experts form the Forestry and Wildlife Authority, and Northern Red Sea Zone, community elders and pastoralists at the local political level will be organised to discuss and determine what areas can be allocated for the conservation of African Wild Ass. Once established, the boundaries of the protected areas will be demarcated and legalised. These protected areas, together with education of local communities through the scout programme will help ensure the species survival. 


The goal is to successfully involve the local Afar pastoral communities in the conservation of this Critically Endangered equid species to accomplish the conservation actions. The project will strengthen capacity for protection of the species as well as promote awareness and education in the communities through recruiting, employing, training and equipping community Scouts.

The establishment of a protected area on the Messir Plateau for the African Wild Ass will also have a great impact for the conservation of this species.

This project is a part of the IUCN SOS African Wildlife initiative, which is funded by the European Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (DG Devco) through its B4Life initiative.

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