Breeding - Przewalski´s Horse
In the international studbook of Przewalski’s horse that has been accessible to all interested people on the Internet since 2001, there were 4650 individuals recorded at the end of 2006 and they document the history of the breed from 1899. The trend of the past years in the worldwide population of the Przewalski’s horse continued as the focus of breeding is being transferred to the national parks and saving centres in Mongolia and China and semi-reservations in East and Central Europe. There were 1850 living individuals at the end of 2006. Most of the zoological gardens that breed the Przewalski’s horse limited the mating to the extent that is necessary for keeping smaller expositional groups and maintaining the present genetic variability. At present more than one third of the worldwide population of Przewalski’s horses live in natural or nearly natural conditions. Thanks to the positive development of these populations the era of every-year transports from Europe to China and Mongolia is over. In the near future only the transfers among the breeding centres and acclimatisation stations in the national parks in China and Mongolia will take place. The addition to the reintroduced populations in Asia from the breeds in European, Australian or American zoological gardens can happen in a limited extent and for genetic purposes only. The other reason for the end of transports from Europe is the high cost of the air transportation of the horses.
In Mongolia the reintroduction continued in three centres – Tachin Tal in the national park Gobi, Chustajn Nuruu in the park of the same name near Ulaanbaatar (both stations were opened in 1992) and a new acclimatisation station Khomiin Tal built in 2003–2004 near the borders of the national park Khar Us Nuur, about
As far as the stated goals are considered the most successful was the station in the national park Chustajn Nuruu, where 170 horses lived at the end of 2006. Out of these two thirds move freely around the whole area of the park. From 1992 more than 220 were born here. Despite the fact that more than one fourth of the newborn foals fall prey to the wolves every year, the population is still growing. When comparing this station to the stations Tachin Tal and Khomiin Tal situated in semi-desert and desert zones, we have to bear in mind that the station Chustajn Nuruu is located in much more favourable climatic and vegetation conditions but out of the area where the Przewalski’s horses originally lived. The fact that the park’s area is limited and it is surrounded by numerous settlements represents a great disadvantage. The presence of the domesticated horses also represents a great risk. The year of 2006 was very rich in events in Tachin Tal and the parts of the Gobi national park nearby where the last wild horses used to live in the 60s and 70s of the last century. In spring of 2006 18 foals were born in the freely living herds and the total number of the population overcame the number of 100 for the first time in the history of reintroduction. In July
Despite the doubtless successes of the reintroduction projects there are also some problems. In the national park Chustajn Nuruu there are more and more cases of aggressive behaviour of redundant stallions that arouse conflicts and sometimes even kill the foals. In Gobi the packs of wolves represent the biggest problems, in August and September 2006 12 horses fell prey to them. The third Mongolian project in the locality Khomiin Tal is still at the beginning and in 2006 no foals were born here. It seems that the initial phase of acclimatisation will be here as difficult as in the Gobi national park.
The Chinese station Jimsar in the Xinjiang province reached very good results and 220 foals have been born here since 1990. After many-year-long delays in 2002-2004 the transport of part of the breeding herd from Jimsar was moved to Kalameili reservation in cooperation with the zoo in Washington and Cologne. The new reservation has got the area of 1.7 million km² on the North edge of Djungar plateau on the foothills of Tien-Shan. In 2005–2006 the first foals were born here. Thanks to the fact that the locality is
Within the framework of the visit to Mongolia, on the 14th July there was a ceremonial opening of the exhibition called “Wild horses from Prague” in the Natural sciences museum in Ulaanbaatar. The exhibition commemorates the role that the Prague zoo played in the saving of Przewalski’s horses and our contacts with Mongolian scientists and institutions. The Czech ambassador in Mongolia Mr. Jiøí Nekvasil took part in the ceremonial opening. During the visit we managed to revive our contacts with the Mongolian specialists from the 90s and create the conditions so that the Prague zoological garden could take part again in the programme for reintroduction of the Przewalski’s horses to the wilderness of western Mongolia.
RNDr. Even Kùs, head of the department