Wild horses return to Mongolia's steppes

A quarter-century-old project to repopulate the steppes of Mongolia with wild horses was kept alive as four animals made the long trip back to their ancestral home from Prague Zoo.

Driven to extinction in their homeland in the 1960s, the Przewalski’s horses survived in captivity before efforts began to re-introduce them to the arid desert and mountains along Mongolia’s border with China.

Zoos organized the first transport to Mongolia of the strong, stocky beasts in 1992.

For the past decade, Prague Zoo has been the only one continuing that tradition and it holds the studbook of a species whose ancestors – unlike other free-roaming horses such as the wild mustangs of the United States – were never domesticated.

The zoo completed its seventh transport last week, releasing four mares born in captivity in the Czech Republic, Germany and Denmark in the Gobi desert. They will spend the next year in an enclosed area to acclimatize before being freed.

“All the mares are looking very well, they are not hobbling, they are calm, eating hay and trying to test the taste of the new grass,” Prague Zoo veterinarian Roman Vodicka said after making observations a few days after the release.

Prague has released 27 horses in total and officials estimate around 190 are now back in the wild in the Gobi B park, where the most recent arrivals were sent. (Reuters)

 Photography by David W. Cerny/Reuters

See more news-related photo galleries and follow us on Yahoo News Photo Twitter and Tumblr.

A Przewalski’s horse stands in Takhin Tal National Park

A Przewalski’s horse stands at the acclimatization enclosure in the early morning hours at the Takhin Tal National Park, part of the Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area, in south-west Mongolia, June 23, 2017. (Photo: David W. Cerny/Reuters)

Przewalski’s horses graze on a meadow in Dolni Dobrejo

Przewalski’s horses graze on a meadow at the acclimatization enclosure in the village of Dolni Dobrejov near the city of Tabor, Czech Republic, June 18, 2017. (Photo: David W. Cerny/Reuters)

A veterinary doctor holds a tranquilized Przewalski’s horse

A veterinary doctor holds a tranquilized Przewalski’s horse at the acclimatization enclosure in the village of Dolni Dobrejov near the city of Tabor, Czech Republic, June 18, 2017. (Photo: David W. Cerny/Reuters)

A Przewalski’s horse walks on a meadow in Dolni Dobrejo

A Przewalski’s horse walks on a meadow at the acclimatization enclosure in the village of Dolni Dobrejov near the city of Tabor, Czech Republic, June 18, 2017. (Photo: David W. Cerny/Reuters)

Przewalski’s horses graze in Takhin Tal National Park

Przewalski’s horses graze at the acclimatization enclosure at the Takhin Tal National Park, part of the Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area, in south-west Mongolia, June 23, 2017. (Photo: David W. Cerny/Reuters)

A veterinary doctor covers a tranquilized Przewalski’s horse

A veterinary doctor covers a tranquilized Przewalski’s horse from a sun at the acclimatization enclosure in the village of Dolni Dobrejov near the city of Tabor, Czech Republic, June 18, 2017. (Photo: David W. Cerny/Reuters)

The “Milky Way” is seen across the sky at the Takhin Tal National Park

The “Milky Way” is seen across the sky in the early morning hours at the Takhin Tal National Park, part of the Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area, in south-west Mongolia, June 23, 2017. (Photo: David W. Cerny/Reuters)

Trucks carrying Przewalski’s horses drive to Takhin Tal National Park

Trucks carrying Przewalski’s horses drive to Takhin Tal National Park, part of the Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area, in south-west Mongolia, June 20, 2017. (Photo: David W. Cerny/Reuters)

Camels stand on a desert near the Takhin Tal National Park,

Camels stand on a desert near the Takhin Tal National Park, part of the Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area, in south-west Mongolia, June 20, 2017. (Photo: David W. Cerny/Reuters)

Mongolian workers unloadPrzewalski’s horses in Takhin Tal National Park

Mongolian workers unload containers containing Przewalski’s horses in Takhin Tal National Park, part of the Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area, in south-west Mongolia, June 20, 2017. (Photo: David W. Cerny/Reuters)

Children ride their bikes at the Takhin Tal National Park

Children ride their bikes at the Takhin Tal National Park, part of the Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area, in south-west Mongolia, June 22, 2017. (Photo: David W. Cerny/Reuters)

A Przewalski’s horse peers out of a container

A Przewalski’s horse peers out of a container on the way to Takhin Tal National Park, part of the Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area, in south-west Mongolia, June 20, 2017. (Photo: David W. Cerny/Reuters)

A camel walks on a hill near the Takhin Tal National Park

A camel walks on a hill near the Takhin Tal National Park, part of the Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area, in south-west Mongolia, June 20, 2017. (Photo: David W. Cerny/Reuters)

A Przewalski’s horse leaves its container in Takhin Tal National Park

A Przewalski’s horse leaves its container after being released in Takhin Tal National Park, part of the Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area, in south-west Mongolia, June 20, 2017. (Photo: David W. Cerny/Reuters)

A herd of endangered Przewalski’s horses trot across the Takhin Tal National Park

A herd of endangered Przewalski’s horses trot across the Takhin Tal National Park, part of the Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area, in south-west Mongolia, June 22, 2017. (Photo: David W. Cerny/Reuters)

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes