A quarter-century-old project to repopulate the steppes of Mongolia with wild horses is being kept alive as four animals made the long trip back to their ancestral home from Prague Zoo.
The Przewalski's horses – a rare subspecies of wild horses – were near extinction in their homeland of Mongolia in the 1960s. But they survived in captivity before efforts began to re-introduce them to the arid desert and mountains along Mongolia's border with China.
"At least 27 horses were transported here during the last years through the Prague Zoo and also thanks to them the population is now more than 190 horses," Prague Zoo Zoology Director Jaroslav Simek said.
"The number which we think is a minimum for saving the horse population is between 400 and 500. This number ensures higher vitality and higher resistance to external pressure on the horse population," Prague Zoo General Director Miroslav Bobek said.
Prague Zoo has been the only one continuing that tradition for the past decade, holding the studbook of a species whose ancestors were never domesticated.
TRT World's Kim Vinnell reports.
From Prague with love
Prague Zoo completed its seventh transport last week, releasing four mares born in captivity in the Czech Republic, Germany and Denmark in the Gobi desert, a region in northern China and southern Mongolia.
They will spend the next year in an enclosed area to acclimatise before being freed.
"All the mares are looking very well, they are not hobbling, they are calm, eating hay and trying to test the taste of the new grass," Prague Zoo veterinarian Roman Vodicka said after making observations a few days after the release.
Zoos organised the first transport to Mongolia of the strong, stocky beasts in 1992.