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The Przewalski’s horse has made an incredible recovery in the wild, according to scientists from London Zoo, and should be taken off the “extinct” list, and reclassified as “endangered.”

In 1945 the horse was all but extinct — they numbered 45 — but following a sustained programme to breed them in captivity there were more than 1500 Przewalski’s horses by the early 1990s. Work then began to slowly reintroduce them to their native Mongolian habitat.

The programme has now been heralded as a fantastic success. The scientists responsible have applied to have their project results officially noted by The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), by the reclassification. .

“This finding is significant as it shows reintroductions can work,” said Sarah King, the project manager in Mongolia. “The status change is exiting because it illustrates that the horses haven’t been weakened by captivity, which was an initial worry.”

“There were some concerns,” agreed Nick Lindsay of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). “However, there are now 248 free-ranging Przewalski’s horses in the wild, which is an incredible achievement.”

“If the application is accepted by the IUCN, this reclassification is set to be a milestone for large mammal conservation,” he added.


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