Horse News

China Re-Introduces Wild Horses While US BLM Stampedes National Icons into Oblivion

(The News as We See It) by R.T. Fitch, Author and Director of the HfH Advisory Council

Prezwalski’s Horses Deemed International Cooperative Success

While the United States of American strips its public lands of native wild horses China and Australia have launched into a joint effort to re-introduce wild Prezwalski’s horse herds back into their native lands in Mongolia.

American wild horses and burros are headed down the same road that the Prezwalski’s horse traveled as they were once considered extinct in the wild.  The Prezwalski’s horse had been native to Asia, primarily China and Mongolia with the last wild horse being spotted in China in 1966.  The horse is named after the Russian geographer and explorer Nikolai Przhevalsky and has never been domesticated, hence it is considered to be the world’s true wild horse.

Back in 1985 while the U.S. federal agency, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), was stampeding, capturing and killing American wild horses China had initiated the Prezwalski’s Horse Reintroduction Project with the creation of the Xinjiang Wild Horse Breeding Center.  In 1994 China partnered with the Taronga Western Plains Zoo from Australia and introduced several of their Prezewalski horses into the Hustai National Park in Mongolia.  Since the initial introduction 10 other groups of Prezewalski have been released into the park.  In the U.S. 40,000+ wild horses languish in long term holding facilities waiting to die with only an estimated 20,000+ left free on their millions of acres of congressionally designated land.

In Mongolia, the Hustai National Park is rich in diversity boasting of over 664 different species of insects, birds, fish and mammals with the re-introduced Prezwalski’s horse being a number one draw while in the U.S. the largest wild horse audiences are taxpaying U.S. citizens gathering at illegal BLM roundups to protest the violence and death rained down upon the American icon by Ken Salazar’s BLM.

Recently, Taronga Western Plains Zookeeper Todd Jenkinson visited the Hustai National Park to check up on the released wild horses as part of the cooperative effort and reported:

“We were documenting where the horses were stopping and grazing and their favorite grazing areas,” he said.

“We have biologists studying the areas that the animals spend time grazing in, and the long term viability of that grazing.

“Its early days of those surveys but we think about 500 horses might be a good amount in the park.”

The Hustai National Park is approx. 125,000 acres in size while America’s Twin Peaks area is comprised of 798,000 acres on which the BLM, after a recent bloody round up of almost 2,000 horses, left only  265 wild horses to live free as they were intended to by Congressional mandate.  By BLM standards that’s 3,000 acres per horse while the Chinese and Australians conservatively figure 250 acres per horse.

Our BLM’s poor math, junk science and anti-horse propaganda is further put to the test by the benevolent scientists from the Hustai Park and Taronga Zoo through the assertion that the Prezwalski’s wild horses reproduce by only a 7% annual growth rate while the BLM clings to an impossible figure of 20% with herds doubling every four (4) years, figures that even the novice know are totally unattainable and out of scope.

Thanks to the cooperation and compassion of both the Chinese and Australians the Prezwalski’s horse is now longer considered to be extinct in the wild and has been moved to the ‘critically’ endangered list while the wild horses of America are being pushed to the brink with the BLM planning to attack and remove 9,000 more wild horses and burros from their rightful homes over the winter of 2010-2011.

It’s unfortunate that as Americans we cannot echo the comments from across the Pacific:

“The Mongolians are very passionate about their horse…they’re very protective of the species,” Todd said.

“It’s a feel good story and a motivating one not to give up on wildlife.”

34 replies »

  1. If memory serves me correctly, England also reintroduced horses to a baron swamp recently to help restore it. First came insects, then birds and reptiles, then came all forms of fauna and wild life. Think the BLM swamp needs restoration? We are the barbarians.

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  2. Further warnings that our country is on a misguided path. Check the statistics in other areas, we lag. Education being one of those areas, we seriously need to educate people about our world, how it works and how to sustain it. Those sorts of issues are considered green/radical.

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  3. I am glad to hear that China is doing something right for animals. Their record for abuse of dogs,cats and other animals is atrocious. Also Korea where they tragically torment the dogs and cats before they kill and eat them. I have no use for the Asian countries.

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    • It’s really difficult to write about something related to Wild Horses with a positive spin. It just wears me out to be the broadcaster of bad news all of the time…so I thought I would try another approach.

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      • I appreciate the effort with this post and it’s reasoning.

        China is problematic for many reasons, but to throw them entirely out of any discussion because of US arrogance and inabilities is a mistake. This discussion isn’t an “either or” proposition, save for one issue….DOI is murdering our wild equines and that, ladies and gentlemen is the issue. AND! they are not being supported with taxpayer dollars to do that.

        Thanks RT…I get it.

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  4. Nice story..however australia is planning on eliminating their wild horses-brumbies by shooting them from airplanes..I donot believe australia ever had the prezwalskis horse..this would be like eliminating the american wild mustang and introducing the Prezwalski horse to america, or turning pandas loose in america..Wild horses are unique worldwide and as a species in their ability to adapt survive and migrate to do so..there is no species quite like them, and they proved that during the ice age when other species became extinct..When we come full circle on this planet..we will wish we had the wild horse to fall back on for survival

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  5. curious as to whether there are natural predators in mongolia, I have watched specials about the mongolian ponys..seems the weather is pretty harsh-but donot recal mention of any predators

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  6. Prezewalski’s Horses were introduced into the area around Chernobyl, Russia, after the “accident” and seem to have adapted. I don’t know if there’s any more recent information on this.

    2007 BBC Article:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4923342.stm

    “Life finds a way.” (from “Jurassic Park”), and, hopefully, life will find a way even after humans have polluted the Earth to a point where we, as a species, become threatened (which we already are) or extinct.

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    • That was another location utilized for the breeding program, I am not clear as to how successful the effort was but the fact that the horses glowed at night made them easy targets for predators.

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  7. I think that is terrific, but these horses (China) still have many hurdles ahead of them. They are still at risk of killing by locals and in competition for food with whatever is left of resident wildlife. I’m sure the Tibetans and Mongols love most of their horses, but they will also kill and eat them if necessary.

    Korea has added horse (stallion) fighting to their list of entertainment for foreign visitors and locals…along with Bull fighting (bull vs. bull). The animals injured in these fights are also killed and used for food.

    I will retain cautious optimism for China. They still have to close their Tiger farms and let China’s tigers live freely.

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  8. I’m sure writing this was truly a pleasant break from the bleak sorts of stories this issue demands on an almost daily basis, RT. It’s really good news to hear something favorable about China and animals given their dismal record and it gives hope that even the most hardened peoples can still come to see the light of being true managers and protectors of the world’s animal kingdom.

    The flip side of the coin is how terribly it smarts to now know that the country with the worst record on animal welfare is FAR above our own country in terms of valuing and protecting wild horses, nurturing their existence, actually studying their habits and habitat by using real science and real scientific data. I would have NEVER dreamed we would hear about scientifically established population growth rates for wild horses issuing forth from the country of China. It’s shocking in a good way and also presents one more challenge to BLM:

    Are you listening to the scientifically based truth about population growth, BLM? Do you see more clearly where you stack up in terms of scientific integrity now? What are you going to do to redeem yourselves?

    Let’s hope the BLM has a little national pride and takes this seriously. It’s time for them to work to take themselves out of the running for the most asinine backward government agency on the planet. Perhaps this is the kind of “input” they’ve needed all along, being shown to be below even China in scientific integrity. All of the advocates pressing these concerns have not been enough but perhaps the idea that real science using real scientists who do real studies of wild horses in a country that has traditionally been one of the least forward in the world in terms of wild life protection and animal care will be the thing that opens BLM eyes and minds. Hope springs eternal.

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    • Just an FYI before people get too gushy about China. Their government is essentially blackmailing U.S. companies into shipping American jobs to China in exchange for “rare metals” (think radioactive) we need for “high-tech” manufacturing, including military applications.

      http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700081445/Colo-company-breaking-into-rare-metals-mining.html?pg=1

      This company, Molycorp Minerals, has a mine in Mountain Pass, CA, (Mojave Desert?) that was shut down in 2002 because of environmental pollution. Using this new process, they plan to restart the mine in 2011. I read an article that said it was too bad the mine wasn’t over the border in NEVADA, because it would probably still be operating due to Nevada’s relaxed pollution standards.

      In September, Boeing was awarded big contract to use “remote sensing” (from planes and sattelites) to identify “rare mineral” deposits in the U.S. (which are mostly concentrated in the Western states). Our government stands ready to give huge incentives and tax breaks to “rare minerals” extractors.

      So it’s, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way!” Translation: “Get out of the way, you pesky, unpatriotic Mustangs … Uncle Sam wants YOU … GONE!”

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  9. In Defense of Animals ran a poll for the worst eco-villain of the year. Tony Hayward “won” that dubious honor — over Ken Salazar. (What’s the difference –they’re both killers.) In the future will we see Salazar and the BLM receive some award from a president for re-introducing “wild horses” from some sanctuary back into “the wild”? I will be in the audience shouting ” You killed them all. You killed them all.” ps BLM 100 of those horses were mine– I’d like them returned to their designated lands–physically intact. Anyone else want to “claim” some horses? They are (were) yours until BLM………. seriously–those horses belong to the taxpayers of the USA…… even more so when they are in long term “boarding” facilities…… and you have no power??

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    • You’re right if you think about it. The horses belong to us while they’re free (so is the land) Then the BLM takes them, gelds them, brands them and wants us to buy them from ourselves so they can rent out our land to someone else..

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    • Ann, Yes and the twists and turns the horses go through because of all this is so unnecessary.To negotiate directly and get them on lands they can stay on would be the Compromise BLM needs to find and deliver but won’t. So we must stay at this and try to save lives. mar

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  10. Bravo China and Australia, lot on the ball over therem, to realize the Upmost important of these wonderful Wild Mustangs, COME ON America , Get real !!!!!!!!!!!!! Much work to do here !!! Good thing I started 6 years ago !!!!

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  11. A strange and disquieting story given the brutality China shows its animals and the recent news of the killing of the brumbies. I guess you could say Rah – every bit helps. And it is for the moment good news for the wild horses running across the steppes.

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  12. to RT Your article Nov. 11 –Commercial Interests–Not Overpopulation etc. That is such a great piece– I am planning on calling the White House on Tues. 11/16 ( I am very angry right now) Is it OK with you if I read some/all of that article to the message machine? Is calling the White House a waste of energy/time? Does Obama care?

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  13. Thanks for trying to give us some good news concerning wild horses, wherever they may be. I hope Mongolia does have a different & better opinion about animals, than China does!! I applaud them for their efforts at re-introducing the true native wild horse back where they came from, & where they belong. However, I hope they don’t have some “other” reasons for doing so, like putting them on their menus, like so many dogs & cats. Our government could learn so much from others, but it is blind, & would refuse any advice or help offered. If this is “our” country, why can’t we MAKE them change, MAKE them stop, put people back to work in America, by saving our wild horses before they become extinct, & by promoting them, not destroying them!!??

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  14. I think its great that China is indroducing the wild horses back into the wild where they deserve to be, so why are we rounding up the last of the American history and puting them in corals where they cant even run free the way they were meant to be. And most of them end up on a dinner plate. It’s this like animal cruelty as well ? We have wild horses here in Canada to but we dont go around rounding them up to live the rest of there lives in a pen and seperate them from there families and the foals from there mothers. How would we feel if this happens to us? Would we put up with living in a pen, I think not.

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  15. There IS something positive with our mustangs, and I and a few others have been doing it for at least a decade…Deep within the cells of our mustangs is DNA they carried with them from Spain and Portugal. Some of that DNA produces wild horses that are identicle to an endangered horse in Portugal, thought to be the indigenous wild horse of the Iberian peninsula, call the Sorraia, after the location that the last remnants were found by hippologist and anthropologist d’Andrade. Hardy Oelke set about to prove that mustangs were related to the Sorraia, and included samples from mustangs and other horses in the US descended from mustangs, mainly SMR horses, and found mtDNA identicle to the Sorraia mtDNA in some SMR mustangs, and a close variant A3, found only in some Lusitanos and Andalusians, found only in mustangs from Southeastern Oregon, in the Kiger herds and one horse from the Warm Springs herd. For more information go to http://www.spanish-mustangs.org or http://www.sorraia.org (if those don’t work, drop the ‘s’ off or add it, I keep forgetting which link is plural and which is singular.) We have a few of us adopting the BLM horses which appear most like Sorraias, and are cataloging them in the Sorraia Mustang Studbook. More work is needed, and IMHO would love further genetic studies on a wider variety of mustangs but it is positive for our US wild horses.

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  16. …actually, to make it more clear: the mtDNA samples were included in a study by German geneticist Jansen which resulted in a peer reviewed paper about the domestication of the horse. Hardy wanted him to include the American horses to show that they wre related to the Sorraia. MtDNA passes virtually unchanged through generations and it is state of the art to proved descendancy, that there is a past relative in teh bloodline, and it the genotypes that are found usually relate to a geographic area. There are further studies which have not been published yet about the even more ancestral source of the horses.

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  17. This is a species that evolved over more than 50 million years. Branched out in several sub species, some extinct- some not. All horse species are related.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/2129182.stm

    such a shame we have lost millions of north american wild horses before they were even really studied. The past 40 years who knows we could have had many related sub species run to death or over cliffs 😦 maybe in future we can find the bones and recreate from the dna.

    The last weeks update about the panda breeding program I watched was on the today show. Last month. Was a good update, untill the end of the “Today Show” they said plenty of pandas now. Enough pandas in china that now they have started a , pay big bucks and one can hunt and shoot a panda in china 😦

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  18. In preparation for my meeting with my Representative, I re-read the report on the Department of Interior’s lack of scientific integrity policies and practices. At the end of the report is a solicitation to report: Fraud, Waste, Mismanagement, and Abuse

    By mail: United States Department of the Interior
    Office of Inspector General
    Mail Stop 4428 MIB
    1849 C Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20240

    By phone: 24-hour toll free 800-424-5081
    Washington area 703-487-5435

    By Fax: 703-487-5402

    By email: http://www.doioig.gov/hotline

    We have a lot to report. I don’t know how many of us have been using this site.

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  19. Nice article RT. I find it ironic that while we’re removing our wild ones from the millions of acres that was rightly theirs, China and Australia are now re-introducing their wild ones. With a requirement of only 250 acres per horse, versus 3,000 acres per horse, according to the BLM’s standard for ours, certainly raises questions. Of course, we all know the real reason and this is what makes it so concerning. I hope somehow, justice will prevail and this horrible nightmare will come to an end. Our wild ones deserve to be treated humanely and with respect,

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