Prague hosts international conference focused on wild equids

News

02. 09. 2019


On Monday, the 2nd International Wild Equid Conference (IWEC) 2019 was officially opened at the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague. This event ties in with the conference that was held seven years ago in Vienna and is attended by 120 scientists from 30 countries. Part of the programme takes place at Prague Zoo, which co-organized the conference.

Prague hosts the international conference focused on wild equids. It is attended by about 120 scientists and experts from 30 countries. Photo: Petr Hamerník, Prague Zoo Prague hosts the international conference focused on wild equids. It is attended by about 120 scientists and experts from 30 countries. Photo: Petr Hamerník, Prague Zoo

“This conference is extremely important for those scientists, conservationists and biologists involved with equids, as they can discuss their diverse work and can jointly try and improve the conservation of endangered species,” explained Dr Sarah King of the IUCN/SSC Equid specialist group.

“Prague was suggested as the place to hold this conference not only because of its convenient location for the participants, but also because of its long tradition in wild equid research and conservation in the Czech Republic,” said one of the main organizers, Jan Pluháček from Ostrava Zoo. “In 1959, Prague Zoo hosted the first international symposium for the protection of the Przewalski's horse, thanks to which this species was saved from extinction. We would like to see a similar fate for the critically endangered maleness zebra, which became the main symbol of the conference and which can also be saved by the population kept in Czech and Slovak zoos.”

It was at the aforementioned conference in 1959 that Prague Zoo was entrusted with managing the World Stud Book for the Przewalski's horse. “The first to do so, for three decades no less, was Dr Jiří Volf, who, at the time, significantly contributed to returning the Przewalski's horse to the wild. Today his work is followed up not only by annual transports of Przewalski's horses to Mongolia, for which we use Czech Army aircraft, but also by many other activities, such as support for developing the Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area or organizing research projects,” stated Prague Zoo’s director Miroslav Bobek.

There is a truly varied representation of scientists and experts at the IWEC 2019. Participants include Prof Morris Gosling (Newcastle University, UK), who studies rare mountain zebras, Prof Wayne Linklater (Victoria University Wellington, New Zealand), who has long been involved in the study of feral horses and the conservation of fauna in South Africa, or Dr Patricia Moehlman (Arusha, Tanzania), who is fighting intensely to save the critically endangered African wild ass. The conference programme is not limited to lectures, but will also include closed meetings of expert groups and excursions to the Dvůr Králové Safari Park, the Milovice Nature Reserve for large ungulates and to Prague Zoo’s breeding and acclimatization station in Dolní Dobřejov, where one of the things they do is prepare Przewalski’s horses for the journey back to their homeland in Mongolia.

This year’s conference was initiated by US Geological Survey scientists, who deal with equines, and members of the Equid Specialist Group from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). “Other major organizers include Prague Zoo, the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague and the Derbianus Conservation Association,” said doc. Ceacero Herrador from the Faculty of Tropical Agriculture, CULS Prague.

Contact:
doc. RNDr. Jan Pluháček, PhD., main conference organizer
equids2019@derbianus.cz
tel: +420 602 426 691

Prague Zoo hosted the first international symposium for the protection of Przewalski’s horse in 1959, thanks to which this species was saved from extinction. The IWEC 2019 organizers would wish a similar fate for the critically endangered maneless zebra, which has become the main symbol of the conference. Photo: Miroslav Bobek, Prague ZooPrague Zoo hosted the first international symposium for the protection of Przewalski’s horse in 1959, thanks to which this species was saved from extinction. The IWEC 2019 organizers would wish a similar fate for the critically endangered maneless zebra, which has become the main symbol of the conference. Photo: Miroslav Bobek, Prague Zoo