The African wild ass is the wild ancestor of the domestic ass, which is commonly known as donkey or burro. The ass has been domesticated for 6 000 years. The two can still interbreed and are considered to be the same species.
Feral populations of domestic asses exist in several parts of the world, notable Australia and southwestern United States. The original range of the African wild ass is not entirely clear, partly because of the presence of feral asses in parts of the region. It is thought to have occupied northern Africa and southwestern Asia.
A continuing decline has resulted, in modern times, from such human activities as habitat destruction, over-hunting, encroaching livestock and their diseases and interbreeding with domestic asses. There may only be a few hundred individuals left. The species (not including the domestic and feral animals) is considered critically endangered.