Military helps out with plane that will fly directly to the Gobi Desert
Prague, March 31 (ČTK) — The Prague zoo plans to transfer four more Przewalski’s horses to Mongolia, their country of origin, in June and release them to the wild, the zoo’s director, Miroslav Bobek, told journalists today.
The zoo, which focuses on breeding the dramatically endangered Przewalski’s horse, has released a total of 12 of them in Mongolia since 2011.
The institutions assisting in the project are the Czech Environment Ministry and the military, which provides its transport planes.
Mongolia’s Environment and Green Development Minister Sanjaasürengiin Oyuun, a graduate of Prague’s Charles University, expressed her appreciation at a joint press conference with Bobek in the Czech Capital.
The four horses to be flown to Mongolia in June have been chosen from a Czech center to which they were brought from several European zoos.
The military plane will land directly in the Gobi Desert, outside regular airports, so that the horses need not undergo a many-hour journey to the acclimatization enclosure.
“The transfer will cost between 1.2 million and 1.4 million Kč,” Bobek said.
The zoo is gathering the money in a public fund raising campaign, from sponsors and partly from its revenues from the sale of entrance tickets, he said.
The Prague zoo is one of the main organizers of the transfers of the Przewalski’s horse, which was killed out in the wild 40 years ago, back to its original homeland.
The transfers from Western Europe started in the 1990s and more than a hundred horses have returned to Mongolia since.
At present, about 1,900 Przewalski’s horses live all over the world, including some 300 heads in two national parks in Mongolia.
Bobek said the horses returned to the wild are doing well and they have reproduced.
He said the project includes support to the local Mongolian population such as the reconstruction of a hospital, creation of new jobs, removal of environmental burden, handling of wastes and securing of drinking water sources.
The Prague zoo started breeding the Przewalski’s horse in 1932. It has kept the international pedigree book of this species since 1959.