Four Przewalski’s horses – bred in a European zoo – are ready to be reintroduced to the wild in Mongolia.
The last truly wild horse in the world, the breed came close to extinction in the 1960s.
The group, of three mares and a stallion, have spent four months acclimatising in the Khomiin Tal nature reserve on the Mongolian steppe.
They arrived in June, after a 30hr air and road journey from Prague Zoo. Miroslav Bobek, director of Prague Zoo, told H&H the horses had settled in well.
“The mares have attracted the attention of the Przewalski’s horses who are already there,” he said.
“One dominant stallion jumped over the fence to join the new group and started to hassle our stallion.
“We hope the arrival of our young horses will provide new stimulus to the breeding programme there,” he added.
Przewalski’s horse (pronounced Shuh-VAHL-skee) has been bred in captivity for decades. The last wild horse was seen in Mongolia in the1960s.
Efforts to reintroduce the breed to its homeland began in the 1980s. Today the herd numbers about 300.
Mr Bobek said the zoo planned to send another group of four horses next year.
“We need to increase the population to 500,” he said. “That way it will be able to withstand big losses, which can happen in very severe winters.”
This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (24 November 2011)