Wild Drabardi Herdtypes

Family band

If the area can provide for a larger number of donkeys they may form larger groups or herds (max 30). Even with a band of jenny's, the 'herd-jack' is not truly the leader the herd, but he defends and protects the herdmember from predators and other jack's. He can be challenged for the position and the fights might be bloody.

The Drabardi donkeys live in a matriarchal society, which means that they are led by an dominant jenny, called 'lead-jenny'. The jenny determines the movement of the herd as it travels to obtain food, water, and shelter. She also determines the route the herd takes when fleeing from danger.

Herd members will trust a lead-jenny's decision making for a number of reasons:

  • - Genetics
    Usually an lead-jenny have inherited her mother's leadership skills. It is also likely that her mother or grandmother would have been a lead-jenny).

  • - Time as a herd member
    The longer the jenny have been in the herd, the more likely it is that the other donkeys will trust her decision making.

  • - Age
    Young jenny's will not be in a position to bid for lead-jenny status because they are too inexperienced.

  • - Experience
    Dominant jenny's have substantial knowledge of their home range and will lead the herd safely to shelter, water and areas of better grazing. This information would have been passed down to her from her mother.

Young jack's leave the herd or group around or slightly before they turn two years old, either on their own or they are chased off by the herd-jack (if there is one). It's not uncommon for young jenny's to also leave the herd or group even if many of them remain with or close to their dam. Many times the young donkeys join or create a bachelor/ette herd due to safety in numbers. (See below)

Drabardi donkeys can form bigger herds but this usually only takes place on locations with a rich supply of food and/or water sources. Differences in behaviour and social structure likely are the result of changes in climate, vegetation cover, predation, and in some cases even hunting by humans.

Other formations


This is perhaps the most common formation, especially in very arid to semi arid areas. This does not mean that nomads are always alone, the normal number of a nomad group is around three (3). The reason they keep their numbers low is that forage and water is scarce in one area and can't feed a great number of donkeys so while it is a risk being alone, it also means that the food you find is yours.

Bachelor/ette herds

Often groups that consist of only juvenile donkey's. The group give the young donkeys extensive opportunities to play and hone skills that might be useful if they decide to bid for lead-jenny or herd jack status when they are older,or even just getting ready for adultlife. Consist of members from the age of two and up. Max number in a bachelor/ette herd is ten (10), this depends on the area they live in. Can be any hierarchy. Don't call any territory or home range theirs. Wanders a lot, similar to the movement of nomads.

REMEMBER - It's perfectly fine to create your own herd if you want to do that. Here are a few things to think about;

# It's more likely for a Drabardi donkey to form a rather static (unlikely to be changed) herd if its dominant. A dominant herd-jack or jenny are much better in defending his or her herd against predators as well as leading it to water and good grazing.

# It's more likely for a Drabardi donkey to form a larger herd (more than 5 in the group) where there is plenty of food and water.

# A home range where the food and water is more scarce is more likely to just be home of a more loose based herd on a home range or nomads than having a set territory.