Isolation and dispersion

The Przewalski horses continue to be one of the horsemost threatened species. There are some 2000 of them in the world (2016). Most of them are kept in zoos. If the effort here at Hustai National Park to establish at least one single population of free living Przewalski’s will succeed than an important step towards sustainable survival of the entire species is made. However, there are no guarantees that the species will survive in the wild. Therefore, other reintroduction initiatives elsewhere are vital for the continued existence of the species.

In Southwest Mongolia, more precisely in the Dzungarian Gobi at Tachyn Tal, another reintroduction project was launched. Unfortunately the natural growth of this population does not keep step with mortality rates despite of the frequent supply of Przewalski horses from zoos since 1992. At the end of 2009 after a very harsh winter only 48 of the 137 Przewalski horses survived. Fortunately they received some takhi from Urumchi (China) shortly thereafter. The International Takhi Group, the organisation behind this project scheduled some other transports. In 2011 some more takhi were sent from European zoos as well in 2014. In 2016 two stallions and three mares were transported from Hustai National Park to Tachyn Tal.

The French initiative to release takhi in Khomiin Tal in the buffer zone of the Khar Us Nuur National Park in West Mongolia made a successful start in 2004. In 2012 some 34 takhi were living there.

However, the trouble with this kind of geographically rather dispersed populations is that no natural mutual exchange of genetic material will take place. In the Netherlands much attention is given to this problem of a fragmented landscape and its consequences for the different ecological communities. By constructing flyovers to be used exclusively by wildlife, tunnels for badgers and wooded banks for birds, Dutch conservationists hope to stimulate recolonisation and to prevent sub populations from dying out.

In their country the Mongolians also want to release Przewalski horses at some other places, but unto the present they are fully dependent on foreign money and on the import of horses from abroad. More Przewalski populations in Mongolia will certainly expand the opportunities for developing exchange programmes, but it is still a long way to go.