Takhi (Equus ferus )

Did you know?

  • Takhis stay in harem groups with a strict hierarchy, dependent on age and relationship of the individual horses.
  • In strictly scientific terms, the Takhi is a distinct species due to its 66-chromosome count; all other horses have 64 chromosomes.
  • "Takhi" means "spirit" or "spiritual" in Mongolian and the species is a symbol of their national heritage.
  • In 1945 there were only 12 breeding takhi in the world.
Called Equus Przewalski, after the Polish explorer, takhi is considered the world's only genuine wild horse.

Physical Description

  • The takhi has the figure of a compact, small domestic horse with a strong neck and heavy limbs.
  • Typical height is about 1.32m, length is about 2.1m with a 90 cm tail.
  • They weigh around 300kg.
  • The coat is similar to dun colour in domestic horses. It varies from dark brown around the mane (which stands erect) to pale brown on the flanks and yellowish-white on the belly.

Background

From the grassy plains of ancient Mongolia, the takhi retreated into increasingly barren areas, eventually finding refuge around springs in the outskirts of the inhospitable Gobi desert, where the last takhi sightings were recorded in 1969. Hunting and competition for grazing lands seemed to have sealed the fate of this horse as it was declared extinct in the 1960s.

Takhi Conservation

Conservation programmes at zoos saved the takhi from dying out altogether. All of the takhi in the wild today are descended from 12 that were caught around 1900.

The 2 largest of the 4 breeding programs are the Species Survival Plan (SSP) in North America, which has about 190 takhi in 21 zoos including the NZP's Conservation and Research Center at Front Royal, Virginia, and the European equivalent (EEP), which has about 600 takhi in 16 countries.

The 2 other breeding programmes are in Holland and Australia. A dozen animals were airlifted from Holland and the Ukraine in one of the most ambitious horse projects ever attempted.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Anton VORAUER
Przewalski's horse or Mongolian wild horse (Equus ferus przewalski).
© WWF-Canon / Anton VORAUER

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