Known as Przewalski's Horse in the West and Takhi ("Takhi" means "spirit" or "spiritual”) in Mongolia, these dun-colored, black-maned equids are the only wild horses left in the world.
The Mongolian Wild Horse was originally hunted for food in Europe and Asia, as can be seen in cave paintings made about 11,000 years ago and are thought to have been domesticated for food about 8,000 years ago. They were also bred to produce the many varieties of domestic horse which exist today.
The Przewalski’s Horse has long ears, straight shoulders, an erect mane and a sparse tail. It is about 12-14 hands when fully grown. It differs from the present day horse by having a bigger head, stockier build, shorter neck and no fore-lock. It has a dark stripe down the middle of its back from the mane to its tail.
The colour of its coat varies in different seasons. In the summer, the horses’ coat becomes a light yellow colour and the underside almost becomes white. In winter the coat becomes a yellowish brown and becomes quite shaggy. The lower parts of the limbs have black markings.
The Przewalski’s Horse have great powers of endurance and are able to withstand harsh environmental conditions. They weigh approximately 300 kg fully grown. They have a powerful kick and can run fast when speed is required.
Distribution & Habitat
Before their populations dwindled, these horses spanned regions in Germany, Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia and China.
Przewalski’s were originally found in the area of the Tachan Schah mountains which lie on the edge of the Gobi Desert. They were officially re-identified by Colonel N M Przewalski in 1881. Many people think the Gobi is just a huge desert. However, unlike the Sahara, only a tiny part of it is a sandy desert. While the Gobi is extremely dry, the region also has springs, steppes, forests, and high mountains.
Females reach sexual maturity at about two years of age but usually do not breed until they are three years old. Young males do not reach sexual maturity until after three years of age. Similar to the domestic horse, Przewalski’s mares cycle during the spring and summer months but some can cycle throughout the year.
The gestation period is about 310-330 days. They usually bear one offspring, caring for it for about 12 months after birth.
They have a lifespan of approximatley 20 years in the wild.
The Przewalski’s Horse eats grasses and other vegetation.
Przewalski’s Horses live in harems that consist of a dominant stallion and several mares. Young stallions form bachelor bands, which is where they remain until they are able to form their own harems. Males are territorial and compete with other males to acquire females for their harems.
They communicate by twitching their tails and ears or by vocal calls. They also rely mainly on hearing, sight and smell.
The Przewalski’s Horse is legally protected in Mongolia and hunting has been prohibited since the 1930's.
There are three ongoing reintroduction sites in Mongolia, which are fully monitoring their populations and are also integrating community livelihood support into their projects.