The Takhi’s return to the steppe

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The herd basking in the afternoon sun

‘The Takhi Returns’, an exhibition of photographs documenting 25 years of the reintroduction of the Przewalski’s horse to the Gobi, was hosted by Blue Moon Gallery.

Returning the takhi to their home
Returning the takhi to their home

The exhibition was organized by International Takhi Group, a non-profit organization focused on the reintroduction and protection of the takhi in Central Asia. Their official mission is to create a viable, self-supporting takhi population in a protected habitat. The photographs depicted a variety of stallions, mares, and foals on the open plains of the Gobi, as well as documentation of their reintroduction, such as horses being unloaded from trucks and airplanes in their new home.

Trucks transporting the horses from European zoos
Trucks transporting the horses from European zoos

Although the primary focus of the photographs was wild horses, other species native to  the Gobi such as Pallas’s cats, ibexes, and eagles were also featured. Images of Gobi flowers and scenery presented gallery visitors with a complete a picture of the Takhi’s habitat.

Capturing the winter landscape
Capturing the winter landscape

The takhi is the only truly wild breed of horse left in the world, as unlike breeds such as the American mustang, they have never been domesticated. First documented in European scientific records by  Russian explorer Nicolas Przewalski in 1878, takhi were thereafter removed from the Gobi and kept in captivity, leading to their eventual extinction in the wild in the 1960s. In 1985, the reintroduction to their natural habitat began through the use of acclimatization enclosures.

A stallion's late-night arrival
A stallion’s late-night arrival

Now, thanks to the combined efforts of zoos across Europe, primarily those in the Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Germany, the population of wild takhi has increased exponentially. Since 1992, approximately 100 takhi have been returned to the Great Gobi B Strictly Restricted area, including four mares per year to increase the wild population’s genetic diversity and improve its viability. Despite severe setbacks, this wild horse – which has come to be known as a symbol of Mongolia – is making its home in the wild once more.

A successful herd
A successful herd

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