SWOT analysis

Sustainability of the conservation of takhi in Hustai National Park

Objective: to build up a viable, self-sustainable, free roaming population of some 400-500 takhi in Hustai national Park.

Successes

Promising growth of population; numbering 142 in 2002 and above the estimated threshold size of 150 in 2003;
55% of takhi population is wild-born;
13 Harems and an association of bachelors roam freely on the steppe;
Adaptation process to the wild is promising;
Takhi is a flagship species for the conservation of the park,
restoration of ecosystems and attracting visitors nationally and internationally;
Protection of the takhi is the generally (on local, national and international level) accepted main motive for commitment for sustainable protection of the park;
Carrying capacity of the park seems sufficient for 400 to 500 takhi;
Takhi research is a model for integrated ecosystem thinking and interdisciplinary studies;
Experienced and competent staff.

Weaknesses

Sustainable conservation is only possible through sustainable protection of the park;
Environmental uncertainties: lowering water tables, extreme weather conditions and vegetation degradation on migration routes and in peripheral zones of Hustai diminishes the carrying capacity for takhi;
Pressure from livestock and domestic horses on water sources in HNP increases the chance of contacts (injuries through fighting) and infection with diseases;
Wolf pressure has been high in 1998. 26% Of the foals were killed, In 1999 it was 19%, in 2000 only 7.7 % and in 2002 10%. Strategy: with a small population of takhi, regulation of wolves seems reasonable if wolves kill 20-25% of the foals;
To increase the distribution of takhi in the central part of the park an artificial water source has been built and repaired;
Demographic uncertainties: Takhi population is still very vulnerable in size and the adaptation process takes generations. Changes in seasonal distribution of births towards June and July and age-specific reproduction will continue;
Genetic uncertainties: at present Patron’s and Khaan’s influence in breeding is over-represented and has to be studied.
Opportunities
Re-introduction in Eastern valleys enables the distribution of takhi all over the park;
Re-introduction in Eastern valleys facilitates the protection of this part of the park and its restoration (forest, water sources, migration of wildlife, etc);
Livestock control;
Lessons can be learned for the re-introduction of other species world-wide.

Threats

Sustainable conservation of the species is still threatened. The registered world population of takhi is only 1535 individuals ( 31-12-2000 ), including zoo population. Initiatives to start other re-introduction programs in the wild have to be stimulated. Unfortunately the world interest for breeding takhi’s is diminishing strongly. Zoos have limited space and interest. Domestic horses are favourite for year round grazing in nature reserves in Europe;
Two re-introduction programs are executed in Mongolia. Only in Hustai the results are real promising. A new project will start in 2004 in the buffer zone of Khar Us Nuur National Park ( West Mongolia );
Hustai National Park is a relatively small park (50.000 ha) and exchange with other populations in the wild is not yet foreseeable;
Crossbreeding with domestic horses;
Dispersal of takhi outside the park with a growing population.