PRZEWALSKI’S HORSE (pronounced sheh-val-skee's)
Also known as the Takhi
By, J.E. Rogers
In many of my blogs I have told you that man and his poor management and use of the environment has caused the extinction of many animals and left countless numbers of endangered animals struggling to survive in diminished habitats. In the case of Przewalski’s Horse, the story is pretty much the same. Man does, however, have the capacity to make a difference. We have the ability to make things right, and the Takhi is an example of man doing the right thing.
The story of the Przewalski’s Horse is a comeback story. Once wild horses roamed the steppes of Europe into Asia. The increasing human population and their domestic herds of grazing animals forced Przewalski’s Horse farther into great barren areas. Finally, they found themselves in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. The little yellow dot on the map below indicates their last stand.
The last wild Przewalski’s Horse was sighted in 1969. At that point, the animal became extinct in the wild. Luckily, prior to this time, back in 1900 to be exact, a number of Przewalski’s foals were captured and sent to zoos in Europe. As a result of this capture, all of the Przewalski’s Horses that are alive today are descended from thirteen of these captured horses. Think about that! The entire population of Przewalski’s Horses was dependent on only thirteen animals. And those thirteen animals depended on humans to care for them and finally return them to their home in the wild.
Many of you may believe that we have wild horses living in the western plains of Texas, but that’s not true. Our wild horses, or mustangs, are descendants of domesticated horses brought here to the United States by the Spaniards. Our horses are trainable. Przewalski’s Horse will not submit to training. It is truly the world’s last wild horse.
The Przewalski’s Horse is small, and more compact than the horses we are used to seeing. It is closer in size to a zebra than a horse. Its skull is massive and long, with wide set eyes which provide a wider range of vision. It has a very heavy, thick yellowish to reddish brown coat. Its lower legs are somewhat darker in color as is the coat around their muzzle.
The horse can be four to five feet high at the withers, six and a half to nearly seven feet from the tip of the nose to the dock of the tail, and can weigh about 650 to 750 pounds. Usually, the stallion is slightly larger than the mare.
THE MAGNIFICENT PRZEWALSKI’S HORSE
I typically quote, or mention the IUCN* list. In the case of Przewalski’s Horse, the IUCN had listed it as extinct in the wild until 2008. However, man’s intervention and international cooperation, has caused a change in their status. I am thrilled to say this horse is no longer extinct.
I want you to think back on those thirteen captured foals, which were brought to zoos. Those captured horses became the stock for resurrecting Przewalski’s Horse. It was international cooperation between foundations and zoos that saved this horse, and helped to reintroduce it into its historic home in the central ranges of Asia.
With those thirteen foals in mind, I have found a video for you. You will see the people of Mongolia and hear one of them speak in their native tongue about his experience with Przewalski’s Horse. When you watch the video, take note of the people and their reaction as they take part in the reintroduction of Przewalski’s Horse to their land. It must have been a wonderful feeling to see this horse run free again, for the people who participated, for the researchers who worked tirelessly to make it happen, and for the horse, who once more felt the land of the Gobi beneath their hooves for the first time in decades.
You may want to learn more about the stunning animal, and the following sites will give you more info:
My sincere thanks to ARKive.org for some of the information and pictures contained in this post. Please stop by again next week.
Photo credit: Terry Allen
Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza, The Gift of Sunderland and
One Hot Mess, A Child’s Environmental Fable
Where Endangered Animals Heroes Roam the Pages!