Table of Contents Next Page



29–31 May 1985, Moscow, USSR

The Expert Consultation on the Restoration of the Przewalski Horse to Mongolia was arranged by The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Moscow, USSR, by the kind invitation of the Government of the USSR. Local arrangements were made by the Centre for International Projects (CIP). The Consultation was attended by 35 Experts from 11 countries and lasted for 3 days (29–31 May 1985).

The objective was to draw up an Action Plan for the reintroduction of the Przewalski Horse to Mongolia. Experts presented papers and discussed the issues arising from them under 6 main headings:

  1. Status and prospects of existing captive populations
  2. Problems of Przewalski horse reintroduction into the wild
  3. General biology of small populations
  4. Small populations of Przewalski horse
  5. Review of feral horses
  6. Techniques for reintroduction

The Expert Consultation then formulated their recommendations, which are given with appropriate appendixes in the first part of this report with a brief summary of the Papers and Discussion, Welcome addresses, Agenda and List of Participants. In the second part of this report, the papers are presented in full, as it is considered that they are valuable resources for understanding the nature of the problems and the recommendations made.

Appreciation was expressed to the USSR as the host country by the Experts and on behalf of FAO and UNEP, for the excellent organization of the meeting.


  1. The Experts recognize that the objectives are to create a free-ranging, self-propagating population in the wild state, in a self-sustaining defined area of Mongolia. The population will need protection but is not intended to be managed in the conventional sense.

  2. The Experts recognized from information made available to them during the course of the Consultation that several important bodies are fully committed to the task and are willing to make available resources to achieve the objectives when they are adequately and competently formulated. These bodies include the captive breeders' groups who hold individual animals, and the governments of Mongolian People's Republic and of the USSR.

  3. The Experts also recognized from papers presented and from discussion, that sufficient expertise, knowledge and experience are now available for the task, and that it is only in details specific to this project that they need to be organized and compiled into an Action Programme. The Expert Consultation committed itself to the task of designing an Action Programme.

  4. The Experts noted with pleasure that the captive breeder groups are willing to give suitable animals without charge, provided that the costs of handling them from their present locations are borne by the project.

  5. The Experts also learned that there is a willingness to start planning in 1985, and to initiate work in practice during 1986.

  6. The Expert Consultation has prepared criteria for some decisions in the Action Programme as follows:

    1. Selection of individual animals, including genetic and health traits (Appendix A).

    2. Essential and desirable qualities of sites, both for final release of animals in the wild and for intermediate sites (Appendix B).

    3. Numbers of horses recommended as a minimum, including the guidelines on the numbers of separate groups within the overall population and capability of forming harem bands (Appendix C).

  7. The Expert Consultation also provides a preliminary listing of possible sites, with their characteristics relevant to the task, which may be considered both for final release sites in the wild and for semi-wild intermediate staging (Appendix D).

    The Consultation appreciates the information presented by the Joint Soviet-Mongolian Biological Expedition on possible release sites for the release of Przewalski Horse in Mongolia. Since this knowledge has been acquired by experts when engaged upon work other than a specific investigation for suitability for a wild Przewalski Horse population, the Expert Consultation recommends that a small group of individual experts should visit the most suitable sites in order firmly to establish their qualities. Such a group should include experts in the ecological and nutritional requirements of wild horses, and should visit the sites in winter especially and if necessary, also in summer.

  8. The Expert Consultation has considered the matter of staging the move of animals from a variety of captive locations to the eventual release into the wild. It recognizes the desirability of minimizing the number of intermediate sites at which horses should be relocated, in order to avoid undesirable losses, reduced fertility, increased social stress and disease risk. In seeking to minimize the number of such sites the Consultation feels that the possibility of having only one intermediate, semi-wild site between the zoos and the wild is optimum. It is also desirable to have the intermediate, semi-wild site adjacent to the site of eventual release. The process of a major move is then undertaken only once, and the withdrawal of management interventions to foster acclimatization, social adjustments including harem band formation and increasing freedom is adjustable to the needs of the animals, the weather of the time, and other unseen exigencies. This method also provides the possibility of a soft release thus keeping stress to a minimum. The process as visualized thus provides several stages of management interaction with the animals, at one site, prior to release into the wild.

    The Expert Consultation therefore recommends a dual approach.

    1. Establish a semi-wild site in Mongolia as a part of the final wild release site, so that a soft release may be achieved without a second major relocation. All donated animals will go direct to this site from their home zoos in Europe or North America, thus having only one intermediate semi-wild stop at which human support systems may be progressively withdrawn.

    2. Establish a semi-wild site at Askania Nova in the USSR adjacent to the present area there on which the horses are kept. Animals at Askania Nova selected for reintroduction to the wild state in Mongolia will enter this semi-wild site for acclimatization. When the wild site in Mongolia is established, these animals from Askania Nova will be relocated directly to it thus also having only one major relocation.

    The advantages of the twin approaches (A) and (B) are seen as follows:

    1. It will take time to establish the semi-wild site in Mongolia. Selection of animals from many different zoos in Europe and Noth America which will also take time can progress concurrently.

    2. Zoo facilities with all the supporting services are already established at Askania Nova. The preparation of the semi-wild site in close proximity to the existing area can be achieved quickly as the desired area of steppe and funding in the USSR are immediately available. Animals can therefore begin their acclimatization at Askania Nova relatively soon without waiting for site location in Mongolia and for external funding.

    3. No animals, whatever their origin, will have to go through a major relocation more than once.

    4. Methods (A) and (B) above offer two alternative types of semi-wild site for transfer from the zoo to the wild. One, (A), follows the practice which has been used in preparing animals of other species for reintroduction to the wild, namely the use of a semi-wild, acclimatization site adjacent to the site of release. The experts recognize, nevertheless, that there are merits in examining the alternative (B) of a semi-wild acclimatization site adjacent to the home zoo, particularly in the case of Askania Nova, with its unique resources. These include the largest group of captive Przewalski Horses, with harem bands in formation, a developed infrastructure of services, and an extensive area of steppe with some features in common with the proposed wild reserves in Mongolia. In this situation, the method of a semi-wild acclimatization site near the captive breeding location followed by direct transfer to the wild, can be adequately examined and documented, with benefits to the scientific community in gained experience. If experience at Askania Nova at the semi-wild site indicates that animals would benefit also from a period of acclimatization in the Mongolian semi-wild site, or if animals from Europe and North America would benefit from social and behavioural contact with the established bands from Askania Nova, then the option remains for the latter to spend a period in the semi-wild site in Mongolia, still having only one major relocation of site.

  9. The Expert Consultation recommends that it is essential for follow-up studies to be conducted on the populations when finally released to the wild, in order to document the level of success of the reintroduction, to correct for any imbalances, to monitor the biological parameters, such as population growth, causes of loss and of disease incidence, evidence of human interference, etc. It is also expected that the project will be seen as a possible model for similar introductions of other species later, and it is essential to document progress. It is highly recommended that radio telemetry be used for this follow-upwork, and that nationals of local origin and knowledge be involved in the monitoring work.

  10. The Expert Consultation recommends that the Soviet-Mongolian Biological Expedition of Academies of Sciences of the USSR and Mongolia should survey possible release and semi-wild sites in the summer of 1985 in Mongolia and forward their recommendations to FAO and UNEP. It was confirmed that this survey will generously be carried out by the joint expedition as additional national contributions of Mongolia and the USSR to the project.

  11. It is recommended that, following the confirmation of the actual semi-wild and wild sites to be used and subject to request from the Mongolian government, a detailed plan of equipment, facilities, staff and other desired resources should be drawn up in conjunction with the Mongolian government, and that installation of them should be undertaken as soon as possible.

  12. It is recommended that the Askania-Nova Centre and semi-wild reserve be used for training of Mongolian and other specialists based upon international training courses developed in agreement with the relevant international bodies. Emphasis should be given to training Mongolian specialists as teachers for personnel to operate the acclimatization centres at the adaptation and release site in Mongolia. Lecturers and teachers for this training programme should include experts experienced in the ecology, nutrition, genetic, social and health needs of both Przewalski horses and wild horses.

  13. It is recommended that all information concerning the selection of animals for transfer later to Mongolia should be sent to the Przewalski Horse stud book keeper immediately the animals are chosen, so that it can be used in the selection of animals from other zoos. Information from Mongolia should also be sent to him.

  14. It is recommended that the USSR research and other organizations should investigate the possibility of the establishment of a separate Przewalski Horse population in a suitable wild habitat in Kazakhstan, which is a western part of the Przewalski Horse historic range.

  15. A recommended time schedule has been developed for the Action Programme and is given in Appendix E.




  1. Studbook registered.

  2. Genetic contribution from all founders should be represented by individuals designated for breeding propagules. This includes genetic contributions from the domestic mare with 6% Domestic Mare Average in the propagule and no individual 15% Domestic Mare. Ages not specified. Average founder contribution should be represented within the female cohort.

  3. Unique individual (in sense of pedigree) should not be designated and thus protect the captive population.

  4. Measure of sanguinity (default to F or the coefficient of inbreeding). Average F of potential offspring in propagules should be 0.3 or 0.25.


  1. Top constitution and condition, excellent health status, normal behaviour, correct hoofs, descent of testes.

  2. Vaccinations:

    1. Virus abortion (Herpes)
    2. Tetanus
    3. Rabies
    4. Horse influenza
    5. Additional vaccinations according to the local infection situation of domestic horses in Mongolia (Rickettsia, Malleomyces mallei, and other).
    6. Additional vaccinations against local infections in the country donating the horses.

  3. Parasites control:

    1. Roundworms: Parascaris equorum e.a. (Mebendazol 10 mg/kg, 7 consecutive days or 500 ppm M. 14 days or Fenbendazol 5 mg/kg 7 days.

      Deworming of the animals every 2 months 6 times before the transport, even with negative faeces control test.

    2. Tapeworm, Gastophilus, (fluke?), and other local parasites (ticks): Treatment only if animals are infested according to the treatment schedule recommended for domestic horses.

      Clear up Trypanosoma situation in Mongolia.

    3. Ectoparasites: Mallophagae, ticks, lice, etc.: Animals must be free of ectoparasites during 6 months before transport. Animals from a breeding centre and possibly infected with scabies are generally excluded from a restoration programme.

  4. Medical requirements:

    Additional to the necessary veterinarian equipment:

    1. Large animal Immobilon
    2. Revivon (3x more than L.A. Immobilon)
    3. Hyaluronidase
    4. Ivermectin
    5. Mebendazol/Fenbedazol
    6. Injectable selenium
    7. Oral vitamin/mineral mixture containing selenium

  5. Technical requirements:

    1. Freeze branding tools
    2. Blow pipe and Airinject system (70 metre range). Do not use in any case hot gas systems. Recommend: Telinject System.



  1. WILD RESERVES (FINAL RELEASE SITE) (These are taken from the paper of Miller which is included with the collection of papers.)

  1. Historic occurrence - has the Przewalski horse been found here in the past?

  2. Land status - who controls use of the land?

  3. Topography - is the topography suitable for the horse?

  4. Cover - what is the vegetative cover?

  5. Range condition - what is the condition and trend for the forage plants?

  6. Presence of domestic animals - what domestic animals are present and are they competitors or carrying diseases to which the horse is vulnerable. Are domestic and feral horses present and in what numbers and distribution?

  7. Presence of wildlike - what wildlife species are present and are they competitors or disease sources? Are wolves or other predators of horses present?

  8. Human disturbance - what level of human use does the area receive? Are the horses likely to be subject to poaching?

  9. Available water - what quantity and quality of water is available on a year-round basis and at how many sites?

  10. Dispersion and size of the habitat area - what is the size of the available area? How are the resources such as food, cover, and water dispersed and distributed? How much of the area will be unavailable due to topography or seasonal changes?

  11. Potential for expansion - is there a potential to expand the area if the population does well?

  12. Fencing - are there potential problems with existing or planned fences? Will it be possible or necessary to fence the reserve area? What will be the cost?

  13. Seasonal habitat - are the seasonal needs of the animal such as wind cover, forage, water, and foaling areas available?


  1. An area of not less than 5000 hectares providing all year round ranging requirements for a group of horses including forage and water. It should provide territory necessary for formation of natural social grouping - harems or bands - which will allow the horses to acquire and demonstrate the normal behavioural patterns of wild horses. If necessary for the survival of the horses in the judgment of the management specialists, additional feeding may be provided.

  2. Dry steppe climate which is close to the environmental conditions (or biotope) of the release site in Mongolia.

  3. Competent research, breeding, zootechnical, veterinary, and administrative services.

  4. Can support several harems or bands which reproduce on a natural selection basis.



  1. Should be at least 2 populations initially.

  2. Founders for each population:

    There should be 20–30 individuals because of harem structure. It is suggested that they be: 15–20 females and 10–15 males over a 1 to 3 age span if yearlings are chosen. The composition will differ for the construction of a band from older animals and would include a stallion and up to 10 mares.

  3. Carrying capacity (=Ultimate size for each population)

    Suggest: 200 to 1000.




    1. The area is suitable for reacclimatization of horses within a range of several thousand km2, and for establishment of a large wild population. The area is in the steppe zone.

    2. The distance from Ulan-Bator is 750 km (dirt road), and from the city Choibalsan - 150 km.

    3. Terrain is mostly plain, 600–800 m above sea level; chestnut or dark-chesnut soils, both carbonate and carbonate-free.

    4. Precipitation is 200–300 mm per annum, mostly in summer, snow in winter. The average temperature is +20–25°C in July and -20–25°C in January; strong winds are frequent in winter.

    5. Natural water sources are rare, no rivers, occasional small salt lakes and temporary water bodies. Drilling of artesian wells is possible.

    6. Grass steppe vegetation (Stipa, Cleistogenes, Koeleria, Zeymus, Agropyron) with shrubs; Nos. 40 and 42 on the geobotanical map of Mongolia.

    7. Among herbivorous animals the most common is dzeren (Procapra gutturosa), and among predators - wolf.

    8. Domestic horses are rare, and feral ones are non-existent.

    9. Density of human population is low; the area is poorly developed: the predominant occupation is sheep husbandry with absence of arable land.

    10. The proposal for establishment of a reserve in this area has been made and at present is under consideration with competent Mongolian organizations.


    1. This area is suitable for reacclimatization of horses within a range of about 1000 km2, sufficient for establishment of a large natural population. The area is situated on the border of steppe and semi-desert zones.

    2. The distance from Ulan-Bator is 600 km (dirt road) and from the regional capital Arbai-Here - 150 km.

    3. The mountains are not high, the maximum is 2348 m above sea level; elevation from the foot of slope is only 300–500 m. Light-chestnut carbonate soils.

    4. Precipitation is 200–300 mm per annum, in some years only 100–200 mm, mostly in summer; no snowfall in some winters. The average temperature is +18–20°C in July and -15–20°C in January.

    5. Natural water sources are present; these are rivers flowing down from Khangai mountains.

    6. Semi-desert vegetation; grass and solonchak kind in mountains (Stipa, Ajania, Anabasis, Kochia, Caragana) - No. 58 of geobotanical map, and grass steppe in the surrounding plain (Stipa, Cleistogenes, Artemisia) - No. 48 of geobotanical map.

    7. Among hoofed animals the most common are muflons; there are also wolves.

    8. The human population raises domestic horses, and therefore it is desirable to set up limits for keeping such horses in this area; feral horses do not occur.

    9. Economically the area is poorly developed, sheep husbandry prevails; there are also massifs of arable land to the north of the mountain ridge.

    10. It is fully realistic to have hunting banned in this area; also it is desirable to obtain legislation limiting the number of domestic horses.


    1. The area is suitable for reacclimatization of horses within a range of not less than 1000 km2, and for establishment of a large population. The area is situated in the southern part of the semi-desert zone.

    2. The distance from Ulan-Bator is 700 km (dirt road), and from the regional centre - 200 km.

    3. The mountains are not high, the maximum is 1300 m above sea level; the terrain is undulating: elevation from the foot of the slope is 100–300 m. Brown steppe and semi-desert soils.

    4. Precipitation is 100–200 mm per annum, mostly in summer; no snowfall in some winters. The average temperature is +25°C in July and -15°C in January.

    5. Natural water sources are rare, only occasional springs. Drilling of wells is indispensable.

    6. Semi-desert vegetation, feather-grass and solonchak-type in the mountains (Stipa, Ajania, Anabasis, Kochia, Caragana) - No. 58 of Geobotanical map.

    7. Among hoofed animals the most common are muflons; there are also wolves.

    8. Population of domestic horses is small; no sightings of feral horses.

    9. Economically the area is poorly developed; the principal occupation is camel husbandry.

    10. It is fully realistic to have hunting banned in this area.


    1. The area is suitable for reacclimatization of horses within a range of not less than 1000 km2; nevertheless, it is sufficient for establishment of only a small (several dozen) population. The mountains are in the northern part of the desert zone.

    2. The distance from Ulan-Bator is 1000 km (dirt road). The Reserve administration has its headquarters in Bayan-Toroy somon nearby.

    3. The mountains are not high, the maximum is 2076 m above sea level; elevation from the foot of the slope is 300–600 m. Grey-brown desert soils

    4. Precipitation is 0–100 mm per annum, mostly in summer; no snowfall in some winters. The average temperature is +20°C in July and -15°C in January.

    5. Natural water sources are rare.

    6. Desert vegetation of solonchak type (Salsola, Sympegma, Anabasis) - No. 73 of geobotanical map.

    7. Occurrence of Capra sibirica, Gazella subgutturosa.

    8. Domestic horses are rare; no feral horses.

    9. Reservation conditions.


  1. Eastern Aimak Region, Machad Somon District

  2. Ushugin-Nuru mountain massif in southern Khangai; Uver-Khangai Aimak

  3. Low mountain massif in Khan-Bogdo Somon of South-Goby Aimak

  4. Mountain massif Edrengeen-Nuru in Northern part of great Goby Reserve



1.1985(Summer) Field mission by Soviet-Mongolian Biological Expedition of Academies of Sciences of the USSR and Mongolia to survey possible sites for release and semi-wild reserves.
2.1985(Autumn) Report by above expedition to be sent to FAO and UNEP.
3.1986(early part of year - winter) Expert mission of 4/5 scientists to visit sites recommended to evaluate in winter conditions. Mission to contain 4/5 experts including: 1 Mongolian scientist) from expedition 1 USSR scientist) 2/3 Experts in (i) ecology, range management, wild horses; (ii) equine range nutrition; (iii) social structure of wild ungulates and their habitats in cold, arid zones 
The expert mission will also assist the Mongolian Government to prepare a list of needed equipment and supplies, as well as help in preparation of a budget for construction activities at the site.
4.1986(Summer) Expert mission to be repeated if necessary. Could be undertaken by Soviet-Mongolian Biological Expedition which usually visits area each summer.
5.1986Use of remote sensing date to evaluate site and vegetation in detail (upon agreement by Mongolian government).
6.1986Animals at Askania Nova to be selected and moved to semi-wild site at Askania Nova. International Training Course Programme for 1987 to be planned by Askania Nova in association with UNEP and other international bodies involved in programme.
7.1987(Summer) Setting up facilities on semi-wild site in Mongolia (after formal request from Mongolian government).
8.1987(Autumn) Training Course in Askania Nova for Mongolian staff.
9.1986-87Selection of animals in Europe and North America.
10.1988(Summer) Movement of animals from Europe and North America to semi-wild site in Mongolia. (Proposed to minimize cost by flying animals to London UK on service flights, and then by charter to Ulan-Bator with refuelling in Moscow. Road to semi-wild site.) (Summer) Movement of animals from Askania Nova to Mongolia. A reliable and active coordination mechanism for monitoring the adaptation and journey of the horses from different origins and their release to the wild is essential at this stage.
11.1990-91Release to wild site of animals from semi-wild site.
12.1991Goal: Przewalski Horse in wild in Mongolia



1.1986(Early months - winter) Expert Mission to Mongolia.
2.1986(Summer) Possible repeat of mission (may not be needed if work can be done by USSR/ Mongolian Expedition, which visits each summer).
3.1986Analysis of remote sensing data (if approved) and all other data on release sites in Monglia to be carried out by International Coordination Group, who will make a recommendation of the final site to the Mongolian Government.
4.1987/88Setting up facilities in semi-wild site in Mongolia.
5.1987Training Course in Askania Nova (preparation from 1986).
6.1988/89Movement of animals from Askania Nova to wild site in Mongolia.
7.1988 or 1989Movement of animals from Europe and North America.
8.1988/89Supplementary feed and radio telemetry equipment.
9.1988-1991Project staff at site in Mongolia.
10.Travel of project supervisory staff.
11.Meeting of scientists.

Note: Follow-up activities are to be responsibility of Mongolian Government, with annual mission by expedition (in different seasons).



Introductory statements on behalf of the host country, the USSR, were made by Academician L.K. Ernst, Vice-President of the All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences who formally opened the meeting, by Academician V. Sokolov of the All-Union Academy of Sciences who was Chairman of the Expert Consultation, and by Dr. WS. Baibakov, Director of the Centre for International Projects. Welcome statements on behalf of FAO and UNEP were also made.

It was emphasized that the reintroduction of Przewalski Horse to the native habitat in Mongolia was of benefit not only for the maintenance of the species itself, but also as an international model for such reintroductions with other species, since such experience is limited. The importance of maintaining genetic diversity and purity in the Przewalski Horse was mentioned. The sandy desert system of the Mongolian Gobi and the current plans and project for maintaining the ecosystem were described briefly. This work is consistent with the World Conservation Strategy and is the location in which the Przewalski Horse was last found in the wild state. This planned project for the Przewalski Horse is closely related to the UNEP programme on wildlife and protected areas.


The captive population now numbers 680 living animals. One hundred and three (45 males and 58 females) horses wereborn in 1984. The annual rate of increase now appears to be 10–12% per year. It appears that 30 animals per year could be made available for a reintroduction programme subject to their suitability according to selection criteria and that they not be specific animals vital to the health of the captive population.

There is a need for all programmes of captive breeding populations and wild populations including reintroduced populations to be managed in parallel and to be regarded as one population.

The willingness of the captive breeding community to donate animals for this restoration to Mongolia was apparant.


Vast amounts of land appear to be available, but it has been difficult to date to identify specific tracts with sufficient resources to support a free-ranging population of wild horses. There are problems with domestic and feral horses and protection from hunting since everyone carries a gun. So at present no suitable area for release has been identified. Semi-reserve areas need to be found elsewhere and in that context Kazakhstan was mentioned.

During the discussion it became obvious that complete surveys have yet to be completed and there have been no studies on the impact of wolves on the reintrodution. The need for formulation and application of specific criteria of site selection was indicated.

It was indicated that several batches of 30–50 animals each will be needed over several years. Social groups will need to be formed for the release. Perhaps the initial group could be all males to serve as a test for unsuspected problems. The director of Askania Nova indicated that they were prepared to receive 3–5 visiting international scientists per year for periods of 4–6 months each.

A lengthy discussion took place on the need for preparation of zoo-bred animals for release into the wild. It was felt that 1 to 2 years of preparation of young animals will be required to allow formation of social groups, adaptation to climate, adaptation to food supplies, and development of good condition. The resources for a reintroduction programme at Askania Nova in the USSR were described and it was indicated that 8000 hectares additional steppe habitat were scheduled for fencing in the near future. The programme and animals at Askania Nova are suggested as being particularly suitable for preparation of animals for reintroduction to the wild since the conditions under which they are maintained closely approximate the wild condition.

Mongolian representatives indicated that they are pleased that a reintroduction programme for the Mongolian Horse is to begin and that they will cooperate fully. Adequate land resources are available under national protection and funds are available for construction of a reception and reintroduction centre. There is a need to make provisions for training people and for study of feed requirements. Also a series of biotechnical requirements needs to be met. The Great Gobi Reserve was suggested as the prefered site for the release programme because (1) it is fully protected; (2) no economic development is allowed in the reserve, and (3) personnel are available to carry out the programme.


There was discussion of genetically effective and minimum viable population sizes. The relative importance of equalizing of breeding lines versus minimizing inbreeding coefficients led to the conclusion that equalizing of breeding lines (founder representation) should have priority.

Discussion of effective population size (Ne) and actual population size (N) indicated that Ne/N is about 0.5 under current management of the captive population but could be increased to 1.0 fairly easily.

In a captive population management of blood lines is more important that strict adherence to management of Ne. However, in wild populations management of Ne will take precedence since blood lines will not be controlled or readily known. In the wild population, the sex ratio of breeding horses will have a dominant effect on the Ne. The benefits of subdivision of a population for preservation of genetic diversity was considered and led to the conclusion that multiple wild populations would be beneficial. Ne's for each wild population in the range of 50 to several hundred were recommended, recognizing that this might require total populations of several hundreds to a thousand.

It was noted that animals are sometimes more easily mated in computers than in reality. Also it was observed that ecological considerations are likely to be more important that genetic in the early phases of the reintroduction. Papers on the review of feral horse populations generated discussion of possible minimum area requirements for the minimum viable populations proposed. In semi-desert conditions of North America, it was stated an area of 300 000 hectares seems necessary to support 100 horses. There was extensive discussion of habitat requirements for horses.


After papers on reintroduction techniques, there were discussions on optimal ecological and social preparation for horses to be returned to the wild. A consensus seemed to develop on the desirability of bands and the possible importance of a few older, more experienced animals to act as ecological mentors. It was also suggested that in general males should be 1 or 2 years older than females for reintroduction. There was also further discussion of turnover rates in herd stallions and their possible effect on the genetic size of populations.

Risks of repeated handling and moving of horses were discussed at length.

The necessity of monitoring the reintroduced animals was emphasized. Individual making of animals using freeze branding and/or ear notching was proposed. Radio telemetry studies, such as used for the Arabian oryx, were strongly recommended. Traps around waterholes were suggested to facilitate the possible recapture that follow-up might require.

The Arabian oryx project was described in some detail. Two points especially noted were the recruitment of former local hunters to serve as rangers and the assumption of project costs by the host government of Oman where the reintroduction was occurring.


Much additional material was presented and illustrated on potential sites in Mongolia. Discussion indicated that there is a need for further information on food resources for horses available during the winter since little survey work has been done during this season.

Considerable discussion took place on the number and nature of intermediate sites that should be a part of the reintroduction programme. The resources of Askania Nova as an intermediate site were discussed in detail.

The approach being used for the Arabian oryx was favoured for the reintroduction of the Przewalski Horse with emphasis on the acclimatization occurring at the actual location of the release into the wild. It was noted that all previous projects have used this approach to avoid the multiple hazards of repeated handling and movement of wild animals. Horses need more time to accommodate to new surroundings than other ungulates. Western zoos strongly support a programme of direct transfer of their animals to Mongolia for a release programme.


L.K. Ernst
Academician, Vice-President
All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences
named after V.I. Lenin

The Expert Consultation on Przewalski Horse Restoration to Mongolia is being held in compliance with the agreement between FAO and relevant Soviet organizations with support from UNEP.

We are happy to welcome experts and specialists from seven countries of Asia, America and Europe as well as officers of such authoritative international bodies as UNEP, FAO and IUCN.

Thousands of years of animal domestication and breeding have shown that man was able to alter genotype of domestic animals' ancestors drastically, using empirical methods only.

Thousands of breeds have been developed that are characterized by a great variety of biological and economically useful properties.

Nowadays when cell and gene engineering methods are being elaborated on a larger scale, the possibility to create radically new forms of animals has increased manifold.

It should be readily apparent that in the course of prolonged breeding man has developed many properties and qualities of domestic animals that their wild ancestors lacked. And this process will go ahead at a higher rate.

Having ensured great progress, these processes however have negative aspects. Successful development of some properties needed by man has led to a loss of other qualities mainly related to viability and resistance to diseases and extreme environmental conditions. Therefore, preservation of domestic animal ancestors' gene pool is of great practical value for future prospects of breeding science. There is no need to say that the principal goal of mankind consists in conservation of nature including preservation of all unique living forms in the course of evolution.

This problem receives primary consideration in this country. A special law has been passed on animal protection. Banks are created for long-term semen conservation for local breeds and this work goes on.

Problems on preservation of genetic diversity of wildlife, maintenance of biological productivity of species, associations and ecosystems are represented in the topic of this meeting - scientific and practical aspects of Przewalski horse reintroduction into the wild. The Przewalski horse introduction into its former habitat and restoration of its wild population can guarantee the future of the Przewalski horse, preserve conditions for natural genetic variability of this species and enrich the wildlife.

It should be emphasized that this work will serve as a model for saving other zoological species. It will involve research, planning, personnel training and management.

The Przewalski horse restoration to Mongolia has put forward an important task of elaborating a multipurpose and relatively cheap international project. This work makes it possible to use, on a wide scale, local resources of the countries involved in this sophisticated experiment in nature. Of great importance is guidance of the international organizations on integration of efforts at the international level, establishment of the system for exchange of practical information and research results as well as on subsequent distribution and application of the findings to be obtained. Experience in Przewalski horse captive management is reflected in more than 500 scientific publications, proceedings of four international workshops and the IUCN report on the Przewalski horse survival issued in 1982. The principal conclusion from all these papers is to restore the Przewalski horse in the wild.

This meeting represented by competent experts serves to synthesize the research data available, assess resources of the donating zoos, prepare recommendations on the use of the Adaptation Centre in Askania Nova and the elaboration of the international project programme.

The meeting faces an important task of drawing up draft recommendations. This task can be divided into three levels:

1st level - Analysis of the state of art of the Przewalski horse restoration in the wild.

2nd level - Definition of basic guidelines for the action programme. Framing of the integrated approach. In this respect UNEP draft proposals on activities undertaken within the framework of the international project “Wildlife and Protected Areas Management in Mongolia” can be actively supported as a basis required for development of integrated actions.

3rd level - Analysis of optimal scientific, organizational and financial aspects of the suggested programme as well as its assessment as a possible model for restoration of other vanishing species. Also important are recommendations on participation of all the private persons, national and international organizations involved.

Soviet experts under Academician V.E. Sokolov have prepared basic material for discussion. It includes: basic theory, information covering the experience in Askania Nova, findings of the Soviet-Mongolian Biological Expedition, bibliography of the most outstanding papers on the Przewalski horse by Russian, Soviet and Mongolian scientists.

The work undertaken by the Soviet experts enabled them to prepare proposals on the Przewalski horse reintroduction to Mongolia to be discussed at this meeting. These proposals are based on 4 major stages of 6 years of work to be carried out. In my opinion, these proposals are worthy of analysis and assessment by the experts present to succeed in drawing up the recommendations.

I wish every success to the consultation and consider it as another important stage in international cooperation on rational use of the planet's ecological resources.

Joint activities of scientists and specialists from various countries on nature conservation vividly exemplify peaceful cooperation for the well-being of peoples, demonstrating great advantages of cooperation between countries with different political systems to solve global problems concerning the whole of mankind.

The USSR Commission for UNEP and Centre of International Projects, GKNT, made all the arrangements enabling us to carry out this work successfully and to become familiar with cultural life in Moscow - a hero-city, the heart of Russia and the USSR.

Once again I wish you success in your undertakings, happiness and prosperity.


John Hodges
Animal Production Officer
Animal Breeding and Genetic Resources

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Participants

I am honoured to speak on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) at the start of this interesting and important Expert Consultation on the restoration of the Przewalski Horse to the wild in Mongolia.

FAO is pleased to work closely here with UNEP on this project. FAO and UNEP are cooperating together under the terms of the FAO/UNEP project on the Conservation and Management of Animal Genetic Resources, which makes provision for a wide-ranging series of tasks. They include:

  1. Conservation of Indigenous Breeds of Livestock.
  2. Data Banks
  3. Gene Banks
  4. Training
  5. Joint Expert Panel of Scientists
  6. Newsletter (Animal Genetic Resources Information)
  7. Monograph on the Animal Genetic Resources of the USSR
  8. Restoration of the Przewalski Horse to Mongolia

In the case of the last subject which is to be considered here for the next three days, FAO wishes to express special thanks to the Government of the USSR, to whom we are indebted for hosting this Expert Consultation. We wish to recognize particularly the contributions to the planning and scientific programme undertaken by the USSR All-Union Committee of Science and Technology, by UNECOM, by the USSR All-Union Academies of Sciences and of Agricultural Sciences, and by the Centre for International Projects.

FAO is also pleased to be working together at this meeting with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), whose Survival Service Commission and Captive Breeding Specialist Group are internationally recognized for their initiatives. It is also pleasing to be able to welcome representatives of the International Union of Directors of Zoological Gardens.

We are delighted to welcome here the distinguished scientists from many different countries, especially Academicians Sokolov and Ernst and their colleagues of the USSR, who have much experience with the Przewalski Horse at Askania Nova. I extend to Academician Sokolov and to Dr. Seal our congratulationg on appointment as Chairman and Co-Chairman respectively. We are especially delighted to welcome scientists from the People's Republic of Mongolia, with whom we all look forward to working on this most interesting topic. Mongolia is a member country of FAO and we are pleased and privileged to respond to the request for assistance on this subject. Although the work of FAO in animal genetic resources is more often directed towards the domestic species, we have always recognized the value of their wild ancestors and also of feral populations. It is a remarkable tribute to the captive breeding specialists, who are well represented at this meeting, that there are now about 600 Przewalski Horses in the world in captivity, having been built up from near extinction over the last few decades. The willingness with which the captive breeders have already indicated their wish to donate animals for the wild in Mongolia, given a competent reintroduction programme, is a tribute not only to their success in saving the species, but also to their vision for its future.

Finally, we at FAO recognize the benefits which will flow from this Expert Consultation. If as we trust you are able to design an effective Action Programme for transfering the Przewalski Horse to Mongolia, then the project will not only succeed in restoring a previously endangered species to the wild, but will also offer a model for such reintroductions for use with other species.

I wish you a most successful and enjoyable meeting.


Mona Bjorklund
Environmental Management Service

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Participants,

It gives me great pleasure to have the opportunity to say a few words on behalf of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to this joint FAO/UNEP Expert Consultation on restoration of Przewalski's Horse to Mongolia being hosted by the Government of the USSR.

I should like first of all, Mr. Chairman, to join the participants in congratulating you, Academician Sokolov, on your designation as Chairman and Dr. Seal on his designation as Co-Chairman of this important meeting.

May I also take the opportunity of paying tribute to the USSR Centre of International Projects and especially to its Director, Dr. Baibakov, and to Dr. Korshenko, the Liaison Officer for this expert consultation. I would also like to express UNEP's deep appreciation to the Government of the USSR for hosting this meeting and for having so generously devoted its time and facilities to its organization. UNEP is also very pleased that so many experts have been able to gather here today with financial support from UNEP.

Mr. Chairman, UNEP was established to implement the Plan of Action on the Human Environment adopted at the Stockholm Conference in 1972. Since then, UNEP's activities have been - and they will continue to be - directed towards achieving proper management of human activities affecting the environment. UNEP's major objective, within its overall involvement in conservation activities, is to ensure better conservation of living resources. UNEP's conservation activities are undertaken within the framework of the World Conservation Strategy, which was developed by UNEP, IUCN and WWF, and which the United Nations General Assembly in 1979, and later the UNEP Governing Council in 1980 have formally endorsed. The implementation of the Strategy is a high priority item in the programme of UNEP. It is hoped that with the pooling of international resources, involving Governments, the United Nations system and the non-governmental organization or NGO community, the Strategy will provide a practical and useful tool for living resource conservation for sustained development. This brings me to the subject of this workshop namely the reintroduction of the Przewalski horse to its native habitat in the Great Gobi National Park in Mongolia.

Mr. Chairman, the Mongolian Gobi is a unique area of great significance for the whole of Central Asia, since its natural desert and semi-desert ecosystems have undergone but slight changes. However, unless an effective nature conservation and management programme is carried out in the Mongolian Gobi, the near future will inevitably see irreversible changes in this important ecosystem, a reduction and extinction of many wildlife species populations in addition to the Przewalski's horse.

Mr. Chairman, as some of the participants in the workshop know, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has been collaborating since 1978 with the Governments of the Mongolian People's Republic and the USSR in the large-scale project “Assistance to the Mongolian People's Republic in the establishment of the Great Gobi National Park in Mongolia”. Within this project, broad scientific investigations have been carried out, which have yielded a large amount of information on the status of animals and plants and their habitats as well as on the impact of anthropogenic factors on desert ecosystems. The results of field investigations on the status of natural resources in the Gobi have been summarized in a Monograph and a Master Plan of the Great Gobi National Park and recommendations have been made for the protection of rare animals and plants as well as of the unique desert ecosystems, which can serve as models for nature conservation in Central-Asian deserts. These investigations were supported by a large group of Soviet specialists (botanists, zoologists, soil scientists, hydrologists and geographers) who took part in the project; their enthusiasm and high professional qualities ensured high scientific input into all the activities. The authorities of the Mongolian People's Republic provided the necessary finances, together with UNEP, and ensured the participation of Mongolian specialists. UNEP's contribution towards the project amounted to more than 1.5 million United States dollars. During the implementation of the Gobi National Park project, UNEP has been in continuous contact with the Mongolian Government and the Mongolian and USSR specialists concerning the possible reintroduction of Przewalski's horse, which had been presumed extinct, into Mongolia. Important prerequisites for a successful reintroduction programme are, of course, availability of horses and the willingness of the owners to provide them free of charge, as well as the full cooperation of the Mongolian Government in providing substantial counterpart contribution. The Mongolian Government has informed UNEP that it attaches great importance to a follow-up to the Great Gobi National Park Project designed to protect rare animal species, including Przewalski's horse, and has requested further UNEP assistance in the realization of such a project with priority being given to the implementation of activities pertaining to Przewalski's horse.

Mr. Chairman, dear Colleagues, I would like to conclude these brief remarks by expressing a sincere hope that this meeting will help strengthen our mutual cooperation in promoting the objectives of the World Conservation Strategy and that we will come up with technically sound recommendations for the successful reintroduction of Przewalski's horse into Mongolia. Such recommendations should outline concrete measures and be as specific as possible and indicate how the ecological requirements for Przewalski's horse in the wild would be met, including the provision of adequate undisturbed natural waterholes and pasture without any competition from domestic stock or any anthropogenic disturbances, points I will come back to during our technical discussions in this workshop. Such competition was probably the main reason for the decline and presumed extinction of Przewalski's horses in Mongolia in the first place. The planned scheme to breed and then release Przewalskis horses in Mongolia may have a good chance of success if the species enjoys special protection and if its rehabilitation is closely monitored.

I wish our meeting here in Moscow a successful outcome.

Thank you.

(29–31 May 1985)


29 May 1985 (Rapporteur: Mr. Knowles)

10.00Official opening: Dr. Ernst (USSR), Dr. Hodges (FAO), Ms. Bjorklund (UNEP)
11.15Status and Prospects of Existing Captive Populations (Dr. Ryder, Dr. Musienko, Dr. Volf, Mr. Knowles)
14.30Problems of Przewalski Horse Reintroduction into the Wild (Dr. Sokolov, Dr. Musienko, Dr. Tovuu)
19.00Visit to the Moscow Zoo

30 May 1985 (Rapporteur: Dr. Foose)

10.00General Biology of Small Populations (Dr. Foose)
10.30Small Populations of Przewalski Horse (Dr. Wiesner, Dr. Klimov, Dr. Ryder, Dr. Klimov)
11.45Review of Feral Horses (Dr. Miller, Dr. Orlov, Dr. Klimov)
14.30Techniques for Reintroduction (Mr. Knowles, Dr. Pohle, Dr. Miller, Dr. Wiesner, Dr. Klimov)

31 May 1985 (Rapporteurs: Mr. Knowles/Dr. Foose)

10.00Presentation of Draft Recommendations
10.30Discussion of Draft Recommendations
14.30Further Discussion of Draft Recommendations
16.45Adoption of Recommendations
17.30Concluding Statements
18.00Expert Consultation closes
19.00Dinner by USSR government

(29–31 May 1985)



Dr. H. Badam
Executive Officer
Mongolian Forest Ministry
Ulan Bator, Mongolia
Dr. L.K. Ernst
Vice-President of the USSR
Academy of Agricultural Sciences
(Scientific Leader of the FAO/ UNEP
Project “Conservation of Animal Genetic Resources” in the USSR)
VASKHNIL, B. Kharitonievsky
per. 21, B-78 Moscow, USSR
Dr. T.J. Foose
Conservation Coordinator AAZPA
Minnesota Zoo,
12101 Johnny Cake Road, Apple Valley,
Minnesota 55124, USA
Dr. J. JazierskiInstitut Genetyki i Hodowli
Zwierzat PAN (Genetic Institute of Polish Academy of Sciences),
Jastrebiec, p-ta Mrokow, kolo
Warszawy 05–551, Poland
Mr. M.J. Knowles
Marwell Zoological Park,
Colden Common, Winchester, Hampshire
S021 1JH, UK
Dr. C.R. Miller
Wildlife Planner
Arizona Game and Fish Department,
2222 West Greenway Road,
Phoenix, Arizona 85023, USA
Dr. Yu Musienko
Ukraine Research Breeding
Institute of Askania Nova,
Hersonskaya obl. Ukraine,
326332, USSR
Dr. V. Orlov
Head of Laboratory of Animal
Institute of Evolutionary
Animal Morphology and Ecology,
USSR Academy of Sciences,
33 Leninsky pr. 117071 Moscow,
Dr. K. Pohle
Curator of Mammals
Am Tierpark 125 1136 Berlin-Friedrichsfelde,
Berlin, Germany DR
Dr. O.A. Ryder
Zoological Society of San Diego,
P.O. Box 551, San Diego,
California 92112-0551, USA
Dr. U.S. Seal
Chairman, Captive Breeding
Specialist Group SSC/IUCN
Building 49 Room 207
V.A. Medical Centre, 54th St
and 48th Ave S, Minneapolis,
MN 55417, USA
Dr. V. Sokolov
Academician, USSR Academy of Sciences;
Director, Institute of Evolutionary Morphology and Ecology
(Head of Soviet/ Mongolian Biological Expedition to Mongolia)
33 Leninsky pr. 117071, Moscow,
Dr. V. Spitsin
Moscow Zoo, B. Grusinskaya 1,
Moscow, USSR
Dr. O. Tovuu
Mongolian Forest Ministry
Ulan Bator, Mongolia
Dr. J. Volf
Curator, Przewalski Horse
Studbook Keeper
Zoologica Zahrada Praha,
17100 Praha 7 Troja,
Dr. H. Weisner
Münchener Tierpark Hellabrunn
AG, 8 Munchen 90, Siebenbrunnerstr.
6, FR Germany
Dr. R. Scott
Executive Officer
Species Survival Commission,
IUCN, Avenue du Mont-Blanc,
1196 Gland, Switzerland
Dr. S. Baibakov
Centre of International Projects
CIP, P.O. Box 438, Moscow
10753, USSR
Dr. V. Korzhenko
Deputy Director
Project Animal Genetic
Resources Conservation
CIP, P.O. Box 438, Moscow
107053, USSR
Dr. John Hodges
Animal Production and Health Division
FAO, Rome 00100, Italy
Ms. Mona Bjorklund
Environmental Management Service
UNEP, P.O. Box 30552,
Nairobi, Kenya
Baron E. Von Falz-FeinVilla Askania Nova
Schloss Strasse
9490 Vaduz, Lichtenstein
Dr. V. FlintUSSR Ministry of Agriculture,
Moscow, USSR
Dr. L. Gernov
Head of Zoology
Moscow Academy of Agricultural Sciences,
48 Timiryazewskaya str.,
127580 Moscow, USSR
Dr. P. Golovanyov
First Deputy Director
Ukraine Research Breeding
Institute of Askania Nova,
Hersonskaya obl.
Ukraine 326332, USSR
Dr. M. Kaalu
Tallin Zoo, 145 Paldiskoyeshose
200035 Tallin, USSR
Dr. V. Klimov
Ukraine Research Breeding
Institute of Askania Nova,
Hersonskaya obl. Ukraine
326332, USSR
Dr. N. Krulov
Director of Zoo
Ukraine Research Breeding
Institute of Askania Nova,
Hersonskaya obl.
Ukraine 326332, USSR
Dr. S. KudrjavtsevMoscow Zoo, 1, B. Gruzinskaya,
123820 Moscow, USSR
Dr. L. Maximov
Head of Division
USSR Ministry of Agriculture,
Moscow, USSR
Dr. A. ShilovaMoscow Academy of Agricultural Sciences,
48, Timirjazewskaya str.,
127550 Moscow, USSR
Dr. Sirojetchkovsky33 Leninsky pr. 117071
Moscow, USSR
Dr. Yu. Starikov
Scientific Secretary
Scientific Council on Biosphere
USSR Academy of Sciences,
Fersmana str. 11-1-1,
Moscow 117312, USSR
Dr. P. Vipper47-2 Pjatnitskaya str.,
109017 Moscow, USSR
Dr. Zhiksh
Full Member of Council
Mongolian State Committee
for Science and Technology,
Ulan Bator, Mongolia

Footnotes:      1. Academician V. Sokolov and Dr. U.S. Seal were appointed Chairman and Co-Chairman respectively.
2. Dr. John Hodges, FAO - Secretary.
3. Dr. V. Korzhenko, CIP - USSR Liaison Officer.

Top of Page Next Page