Turkmenian Kulan

Hemiones are a group of Asiatic wild asses that formerly ranged over extensive areas of steppe and desert between the Levant and Mongolia. The Turkmenian Kulan, also known as Turkmenian wild ass and Turkmen kulan (Equus hemionus kulan), formerly occured throughout Turkmenistan and in 19th century its population still numbered many thousand, but by 1941, when the Badghyz National Reserve was established to save kulans from extinction only 250 remained. Nowadays, the greatest threat to the population of Turkmenian Kulan appears to be the potential for catastrophic loss due to pouching.

The Turkmenian Kulan is a critically endangered species. A number of zoos throughtout the world are working hard to establish captive breeding populations of Kthis species. A good place to see Kulan living under natural conditions is Canyon Colorado, a United States-based wild equid conservation group. The population of kulans in Mongolia appears to be stable, but increasing competion with livestock for water and pastures is creating political pressure to remove its protected status.

The Bukhara Breeding Centre (Uzbekistan) was created in 1976 for reintroduction and conservation of wild ungulate species. In 1977–1978, five kulans (two males and three females), from Barsa–Kelmes island on the Aral sea, were introduced into the reserve. The group increased to 25–30 animals in 1989–1990. In 2015 Wild Wilderness DriveThrough Safari, Gentry, AR, requested the renewal of a captive-bred wildlife registration license to enhance propagation and survival of kulans.5

Turkmenian Kulan
Photo © Larysa Johnston


  1. The Donkey Companion: Selecting, Training, Breeding, Enjoying & Caring for Donkeys. Sue Weaver
  2. Origins of Agriculture in Western Central Asia: An Environmental-Archaeological Study. David R. Harris
  3. Equids: Zebras, Asses, and Horses : Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. Patricia Des Roses Moehlman
  4. Social organization and dispersion of introduced kulans (Equus hemionus kulan) and Przewalski horses (Equus przewalski) in the Bukhara Reserve, Uzbekistan. Bahloul K et al.
  5. Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 14

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