Endangered wild horses head to Mongolia

Jul 16, 2012
Przewalski horses share a moment of tenderness in an enclosure at the Troja Zoo in Prague in 2011. Four rare Przewalski's wild horses were headed for the Mongolian steppe from Prague as part of a project to reintroduce the critically endangered species to its ancient homeland.

Four rare Przewalski's wild horses were headed for the Mongolian steppe from Prague on Monday as part of a project to reintroduce the critically endangered species to its ancient homeland.

Prague zoo runs a breeding programme and is charged with keeping the world genealogy book for the equines which have survived only in captivity since the last wild horse was seen in Mongolia in 1969.

The four mares, aged three to five, will be flown 18 hours in wooden boxes to Bulgan, about 200 kilometres (125 miles) northwest of the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator.

"The mares are more nervous than last year," Prague zoo director Miroslav Bobek said, referring to another four horses sent to Mongolia in 2011.

From Bulgan, the horses will be taken by road to the Gobi B national protected park, where the population of the horses shrank to 49 from 150 during the severe winter of 2009-2010.

"They must be animals of an adequate age, with the correct genetic setup, in a good shape, and we also chose them by character to avoid taking mares susceptible to stress," Bobek said.

Two mares sent last year have already given birth in the steppe.

"We'd like to continue with the transports to Mongolia... where we're trying to create sustainable conditions for both the horses and the people who live close to them," said Bobek.

Characterised by thick necks, large heads and stocky girths, Przewalski's horses weigh between 250-350 kilograms (550-770 pounds) and stand about 1.2-1.3 metres (3.9-4.3 feet) tall at the withers.

With ancient cave paintings in Lascaux, France, featuring wild horses eerily resembling the Przewalski variety, the species is thought to have lived in Europe 20,000 years ago, but chased the animals away to Asia.

Europeans only encountered the at the end of the 19th century when Russian explorer and geographer Nikolai Mikhailovich Przewalski discovered them in mountains bordering the .

In the 20th century, hunting brought Przewalski's horses to the verge of extinction.

Explore further: Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study solves mystery of horse domestication

May 07, 2012

New research indicates that domestic horses originated in the steppes of modern-day Ukraine, southwest Russia and west Kazakhstan, mixing with local wild stocks as they spread throughout Europe and Asia. The research was ...

A boring life -- the Asiatic wild ass in the Mongolian Gobi

May 03, 2011

Wild asses are descendants of the original ancestors of the horse and the donkey. Unfortunately most species of wild ass are now in danger of extinction, largely as a direct result of human activities such as hunting and ...

Ancient wild horses help unlock past

Aug 23, 2011

An international team of researchers has used ancient DNA to produce compelling evidence that the lack of genetic diversity in modern stallions is the result of the domestication process.

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

12 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Researchers develop new model of cellular movement

(Phys.org) —Cell movement plays an important role in a host of biological functions from embryonic development to repairing wounded tissue. It also enables cancer cells to break free from their sites of ...

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...