11 comments on “Takhi – A Success Story in the Land of Chinggis Khan

  1. When you first said you were going to Mongolia I had misgivings . Now I think you made a good decision . I enjoy your pictures and comments more than I can say. Keep up the GOOD work.

  2. I have been enjoying your travelogues for a while now, but this one is very inspiring. You are doing something right. I can’t wait for my next adventure! Thank you guys.

  3. This is such an educational post and you are so passionate about the wild horses. I’m glad to see more about them, since I asked the question earlier about the difference between these and other “wild” horses. I have another question though: in your research, did you find how they were introduced back into the park? Did the few people who had horses in captivity agree to give them up, or was there a breeding program or what? Ha ha… when I’m interested I just can’t help myself and I’m filled with questions.

    I agree with you that they are beautiful, and so is the landscape. Your adventure is really one of a kind. You must feel so grateful to be able to experience all of this.

    • We appreciate your questions, Crystal. Apparently by 1947 there were 31 takhi in captivity, of which 12 would breed. An additional mare was captured in Mongolia and added to this very small breeding population. At this point, there was a serious concern that a genetic bottleneck – a lack of genetic diversity – among the few remaining horses would lead to their demise, as over time inbreeding typically creates weakened offspring. Aware of this problem, since the 1960s scientists have been carefully selecting breeding mates for the maximum genetic diversity.
      In any event, the early breeding program was successful. As the captive population began to grow, some of them were released onto protected reserves in Germany and The Netherlands. An international push to attempt reintroduction into Mongolia ensued.
      Initial attempts to reintroduce takhi to the wild were rough. Winters here can be extreme, and they took a toll. But the selective breeding was working, and over time hardier and hardier horses were available for release. In 1997, takhi began successfully breeding in their new, wild environs.
      There are so many inspiring aspects to this story, beginning with the international cooperation this effort reflects. Also heartening is that in a country where poaching is out of control, (see our article Mongolia’s Impressive Red Deer, people are leaving the takhi alone. These horses have become a source of great national pride for Mongolia.
      A similar story we are following with great interest is the status of river otters in Japan. The subspecies that once thrived there is now, unfortunately, extinct. But a joint Russian-Scottish-Japanese effort is looking at the feasibility of reintroducing a the closely related Eurasian otter to a reserve in Hokkaido. We wrote briefly about these otters for the blog Fledgling Philatelist. We’re happy others are interested in these issues. Jack & Barbra

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