The Przewalski horse once inhabited the vast grasslands of central Asia, but during the 1900s pressure from hunting and competition for grazing land and water meant that the breed became increasingly scarce in its natural state.
The most recent reliable sighting of this horse, which is now extinct in the wild, occurred in 1968. Since then, it has survived only in zoos — but this is about to change due to an ambitious plan by a German zoo.
Munich Zoo has been breeding the horses in captivity and has just moved eight of them, including mares about to foal, to a national park in Kazakhstan.
The plan is to let them acclimatise to the vegetation and temperature before releasing them gradually into the wild.
“The Przewalski’s survival chances are good,” said Beatrix Rau from the zoo. “There are snow leopards there but they don’t usually go for full grown horses.”
“The area is flat, so it is not easy to hunt them. These animals, albeit born in a zoo, will not let you approach them,” she told the BBC.