Daily activities and behavioural repertoire

Zoo-bred Przewalski horses are mostly confined in small holding facilities without vegetation, habituated to humans from which they get hay and palleted food once or twice a day. Under these conditions the behaviour repertoire considerably diminishes.

In semi-reserves their behaviour pattern changed. During day to day activities, Przewalski horses tend to move along specific trails trough their territory in search of water, food, shelter and resting-places. They mostly carry out maintenance behaviour from day to day at nearly the same time and place within the home range. There are however seasonal changes in the abundance and quality of food, insects and the need for shelter, which has it influence on their movements and the habitat utilisation of the horses (BOEREMA 1984).

Weather conditions certainly have an influence on their behaviour. In hot weather for instance while flying insects are abundant they look for windy places to rest, swaying their tails. Prolonged periods are spent in and around water.

It is known that Przewalski mares are very protective towards their foal after birth. As intruders approach, sheltering and herding of the foal is exhibited (DOBRORUKA 1961). At Noorderheide the mare Maize even isolated herself completely from the harem for two days to give birth. We found her and her foal in the forest hundreds of meters away, completely out of sight of the group. After two days she returned to the group. This behaviour never occurred with the birth of her other foals. Did she leave the group because she felt uneasy? We do not know. Important was that she could choose and find her own individual fulfilment for her needs and had the opportunity to escape from dominant conspecifics.