The beauty of wild horses in the middle of Asia

Director´s view

Miroslav Bobek  |  26. 09. 2020

The situation with covid-19 not only forced us to reduce Monday’s Prague Zoo Anniversary Celebration, during which we will reopen the Hippo House, but also to completely cancel the showing of the photo exhibition, The Beauty of Wild Horses, which shows the “Przewalski’s” in the wilds of Mongolia and China. Although it is not a large exhibition – it fits into a ger – I am very sorry to have had to cancel its showing. It would have been a good opportunity to meet the people who helped us transport Przewalski’s horses to their homeland. The opportunity is all the more welcome because we were also forced to cancel this year’s transport, again due to covid.

Foto: Miroslav Bobek, Zoo Praha. Foto: Miroslav Bobek, Zoo Praha.

Despite the information veil with which the covid-19 epidemic has overshadowed other topics, there have also been several recent reports related to biodiversity conservation. In general, they provide alarming information about the accelerating loss of species diversity in all regions of the planet, but there is also a glimmer of hope in one. This concerns a report summarising the results of an analysis published in Conservation Letters. The authors of the analysis posed the question ‘How many species of birds and mammals have been saved from extinction thanks to conservationists?’. The answer is that maybe as many as 48 – and “our” Przewalski’s horse is cited as a prime example of the success of these conservation efforts. Which is highly gratifying!

The rescue of the Przewalski’s horse and its return to the wild is the result of work by many, many organisations and people. However, Prague Zoo and its staff have always been present. The fact that today there are over a thousand “Przewalski’s “ in Inner Asia is largely thanks to Prague.

As we were informed a few weeks ago from the Strictly Protected Area of Great Gobi B, where most of our transports have headed, the number of Przewalski's horses there has already exceeded three hundred. This year alone, fifty-nine foals have been born in Great Gobi B and three of the mares we transported – Anežka, Xara and Greta – are now grandmothers. Just think, when we started our air transports, there were just fifty-six horses in all!

Thus, the Przewalski’s horse is moving from the red to the green list, but it would be far too early to think that the battle has been won. Gobi B is just one – albeit probably the most important – of only four territories in Inner Asia (three in Mongolia and one in China) to which the “Przewalski's” have been returned so far. That’s not much. Which is why we have also started working on the preparation of a large project that should, over time, return Przewalski’s horses to another part of Mongolia – to the east.

But it is still a long way off. As of today, however, in a ger at Prague Zoo, you can admire unique photographs showing the beauty of wild horses living freely in the steppes and semi-deserts of Inner Asia.