These beautiful Przewalski horses are being released back to their homeland

An animal emblematic of man's toxic impact on biodiversity, the Przewalski horse very nearly reached extinction in the 20th century. The species was only saved by several specimens raised in captivity. Today, a huge programme is reintroducing these wild horses to their homeland, in Mongolia.

Two centuries ago, thousands of these horses ran through the plains of Mongolia. Today, there are barely 800 of them left, relearning how to live in their homeland. They are the Przewalski horses, who just escaped extinction in the second half of the 20th century.

Saving a species

Today, numerous countries are involved in a huge campaign to reintroduce the animal into its natural habitat. This includes the Czech Republic which, in the month of July 2018, prepared the release of four horses back into their original country – but with caution.

These animals are confined to a wildlife reserve in the Mongolian plains, where scientists are keenly observing the horses’ adaptation to the wild.

Repopulating Mongolia

There are four Przewalski mares who will soon get to know the joys of freedom. Long legs, sandy brown coat and stocky build, the mares will frolic in the wild and re-join the herds of Takhin Tal, 'the plain of wild horses' where around 220 of their kind have already regained freedom.

This species, observed by naturalists, is spread out over no less than 6000 miles squared. The last wild specimen was seen in the same region in 1969. When the individual died, the species was declared extinct to the wild, only surviving from that moment on in the captivity of zoos and animal parks.

A species discovered belatedly

Only at the end of the 19th century did humans discover the existence of the Przewalski horse, following the travels of the Russian explorer Nikolaï Mikhaïlovitch Przewalski (1839-1888) in the mountains bordering the Gobi Desert.

Overall, there only remain 2400 Przewalski horses in the world, and only 800 of them live in the wild.

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