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Astana, Kazakhstan • 04 March, 2024 | 11:44

Eight Przewalski's Horses Will Return to Kazakhstan in June

The Return of Wild Horses initiative will reintroduce at least 40 wild horses from Europe to Kazakhstan over the next 4-5 years

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Photo by Václav Šilha, Prague Zoo
Photo by Václav Šilha, Prague Zoo

As part of the Return of Wild Horses 2024 project, eight Przewalski's horses will be transported from Europe to Kazakhstan in June. The Altyn Dala state natural reserve in the Kostanay region will accommodate the animals, three stallions and five mares, QazMonitor reports citing the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources and Prague Zoo.

Transportation: Two CASA C-295 aircraft of the Czech Air Force will transport the animals to Arkalyk in Central Kazakhstan.

  • Both aircraft will take off at noon on Monday 3rd June 2024. One plane will take off from Germany, and the other from Prague, both making two strategic stops along the route (see the map below).

  • According to Prague Zoo, landing at Arkalyk is scheduled for the morning of Tuesday 4th June, with the horses being released into the acclimatization pen in Alibi after their ground transport the same afternoon.

Transportation routes (image: Prague Zoo)
Transportation routes (image: Prague Zoo)

What’s next: On February 28, the project partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding, outlining their collective effort to reintroduce a minimum of 40 wild horses from Europe to Kazakhstan over the next 4-5 years.

This reintroduction project is a collaboration between the Forestry and Wildlife Committee of the MENR RK, Prague Zoo, ASBC, Frankfurt Zoological Society, Nuremberg Zoo, Berlin Zoo, and Hortobágy National Park.

Photo by Miroslav Bobek, Prague Zoo
Photo by Miroslav Bobek, Prague Zoo

About the animal: The Przewalski's horse, once extinct in the wild during the late 1960s, now stands as a beacon of successful species recovery through meticulous breeding programs in European zoos. The upcoming reintroduction to Kazakhstan draws inspiration from the Prague Zoo's previous successes in reintroducing the species to Mongolia.

Przewalski's horses were designated as a rare and endangered species in 2021 and listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

About the reserve: The Altyn Dala state natural reserve in the Kostanay region has been chosen as the release zone for the horses. Established in 2012, the reserve spans 489,766 hectares and will host the horses at the Center for the Reintroduction of Wild Ungulates for a year before release. The Kazakhstan Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity (KACBK) manages the center, which has been actively involved in the reintroduction of kulan since 2017.

April 24, 2023. The Kazakh-Czech Business Forum in Astana (Photo by Tomáš Hulík)
April 24, 2023. The Kazakh-Czech Business Forum in Astana (Photo by Tomáš Hulík)
Miroslav Bobek (photo: Ministry of Ecology)
Miroslav Bobek (photo: Ministry of Ecology)

Context: "We have initiated a new chapter in the return of the last wild horse to its natural habitat. Following its successful reintroduction to Mongolia, the government of Kazakhstan approached us with the same objective. Our plans involve relocating approximately 40 horses to the Altyn Daly steppe over the next five years," said Miroslav Bobek, Director of the Prague Zoo during the conference at the Central Communications Center in Astana in February.

  • Between 2011 and 2019, 34 Przewalski's horses were transported by air from the Czech Republic to Mongolia. The same method of transport awaits horses heading to Kazakhstan this year.

  • The joint initiative was set out during the Kazakh-Czech Business Forum in Astana, where on April 24, 2023, Kazakhstan’s Committee of Forestry and Wildlife and Prague Zoo signed a memorandum to jointly return the wild horses to the steppe.

It's an honor for us as the leading authority for biodiversity conservation in Kazakhstan to spearhead such an important moment in the restoration of the natural history of our country, and we are committed to the realization of our original vision[…]

Daniyar Turgambayev the Chairman of the Committee of Forestry and Wildlife
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