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Wild horses return to Golden Steppe after centuries

  • June 14, 2024
  • 2 min read
Wild horses return to Golden Steppe after centuries

Wild horses have returned to the Golden Steppe of Kazakhstan for the first time in at least two centuries following a reintroduction programme that has taken decades. The seven Przewalkski’s Horses were airlifted from Europe to the Central Asian nation across two operations by the Prague Zoo. The operation took 18-hours.

The horses are reported to be doing well as they roam the plains of their new habitat, caretakers told the BBC. Their return to the ancestral homeland is being hailed as a triumph of the generations of work in conservation, zoo director Miroslav Bobek said.

“[The mare named] Tessa was the first to run out of the transport box into the pen, then Wespe, followed by Umbra, and Sary brought the foursome to a close,” he added.

Przewalski’s horse is the last remaining wild horse species on earth, named for Russian explorer Nikolai Przewalski. Przewalski was the first to identify the horse for the European scientific community. The breed has its roots millennia ago from the Central Asian steppes and was brought to Europe and North America for research in the 19th and 20th centuries. There it saw its populations growing in captivity.

The horses ended up in zoos in Munich and Prague from where their descendants have made their way back to Kazakhstan. Cultural relics from the areas show people riding and using the horses for food in the north of Kazakhstan two millennia before the first records of domestic horses in Europe.

By the time Przewalski discovered them, the wild populations had already been dwindling. They were only found in a small section in the west of Mongolia.

Image: Lawrence

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