The Reintroduction Project
This project is mainly focused at the establishment of a free living population of some 400-500 Przewalski horses in the Hustai National Park. The project receives no subsidy. It depends for its income totally on donations, gifts and private funding.
The sheltered lives in the zoos and the neglect of the processes of natural selection did confront the species with the undesirable effect of "creeping domestication." To be ascertained of a viable and sustainable free living progeny in the Hustai National Park, their parents in the semi-reserves had to be carefully selected on health and the criterion of a broad genetic variation.
The free roaming population of Hustai National Park was built by sending three groups of Przewalski horses every two years from the Netherlands to Hustai within a period of ten consecutive years. These groups consisted of five to eight animals (two family groups and a stallion group). In 1992 the first groups arrived in Hustai, and in 2000 the last. A total of 84 horses were reintroduced into the Hustai National Park. At present over 300 Przewalski horses, distributed over twenty-four harems and one bachelor group, enjoy the freedom of Hustai.
When they first arrived in Hustai the groups were not immediately being released into the wild. They did spend some one and a half to two years in a so-called fenced-in acclimatisation area, where they could come to terms with each other, their new habitat and climate. In respectively 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 and 2002 groups were released from these fenced-in areas into the wider national park.
Every Przewalski group in the fully protected National Park has its own home range through which they daily move in search of food, water and shelter. The size of the home ranges vary from 300 till 3200 ha and differ seasonally. The free roaming harems have to learn to defend themselves against wolves. There are frequent contacts with wolves. Instinctively the mares will group in a circle around the foals to protect them, while the stallion starts a counterattack.
All Przewalski groups at Hustai have their own ranger who follows them daily and who reports on their whereabouts, activities and interaction with other groups and other animal wildlife. The hereby gathered data gives a good insight in how the groups are being distributed over the national park and how they make use of the habitat.
Condition scoring is another important task of both the biologists and the rangers. Monthly the condition of each individual animal is being measured in order to have a clear view on how the adaptation processes are developing. New born foals, as well as found dead takhi and movements among the groups have to be reported to get an insight in the dynamics of the population. Wolves and other predators possibly may have an influence on the behaviour of herbivores and their habitat selection. Meanwhile many a new born Przewalski colt or filly has been able to enjoy the light of day in complete freedom.
The park staff bears responsibility for the daily proceedings in the Park and for the Przewalski horses.
The establishment of the Przewalski population and the raising of the necessary funds was the responsibility of the FRPH.