Explorer and Independent Biologist

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Ostara with Przewalski's Horse

Ostara is the Festival of the Spring Equinox, celebrated on 21st March. Now, the days are growing longer than the nights, until the Summer Solstice. I am celebrating Ostara in style in the Seewinkel National Park in Burgenland, Austria, where there is a breeding programme for the very rare Przewalski's Horse.

Przewalski's Horse is declared  "Extinct in the Wild"

The horse was discovered in the steppes of the Gobi Desert in 1879 by Colonel Nikolai Przewalski, who took bones he found during his explorations back to the University of St Petersburg. There, zoologists confirmed it as 'a species new to science', and named it after the Colonel-explorer.

The ancestor of the modern horse

Biologists consider the species to be the ancestor of the modern horse. Sadly, they were victims of over-hunting for meat and competition with people for habitat; in 1970 it was declared "extinct in the wild". However, the gene pool is preserved in coordinated captive breeding programmes around the world, and re-introduction of animals back into the wild has already begun.

 Conservation  breeding programme - 
these two look like they are getting on with it!

 In the Seewinkel National Park, the horses are also part of a habitat management scheme in which their grazing maintains the biodiverstiy of the plant life.

Grazing by the horses is important for grassland management 

Thanks to the breeding programme 
their descendants may be safe for the future

A Happy Ostara to all my Readers!


  1. They seem to resemble the horses they ride in Mongolia, don't they? And smaller then the wild hoses we have here in the States: the Mustang, and the wild horses on Assateague Maryland: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPzKLDl9MMk
    Haven't been to Assateague Island in many years, but it is quite a fine experience to see the horses roaming about.

    Thanks for the wonderful photos again.

  2. They are wonderful photos. And interesting too. Well done!

  3. I am concerned that your beer in the last post is pink.....

  4. Great pics. Deb says they remind her of mules, their muzzle I guess. So good to hear they're back in the wild.

  5. Enough with the horses. Time for another blog.