Hustai National Park (Khustain Nuruu N.P)
Find out everything about visiting in Hustai National Park (Khustain nuruu)- history of Przewalski’s horse, ways to spot the horses, wildlife, flora & fauna, places to visit, tourists Ger camps and tours.
Takhi horse – History of the horse
In prehistoric time , 22 species of horses existed in the world but only 7 species are presently extant. There are seven wild horse species in the world including 3 different zebras, 3 different asses and the only truly horse Przewalski’s horse. The Przewalksi horses are different than Mustangs that were once domesticated and some of them escaped and were able to live on their own in the wild.
In 1880, Russian explorer Nikolai Przewalski encountered with a small population of wild horses while travelling through Central Asia. He returned from his expedition and received a horse’s skull and hide as a present from the army commissioner. The conservator Poliakow studied them and concluded they belonged to a new wild horse species and it was given the name “Equus przewalskii” horse.
Takhi is the Mongolian name given to the horses. There were times that people believed that Przewalski’s horse is a hybrid between domestic horses and wild asses.
Przewalski horses Vs Domestic horses
The Przewalksi horse is a truly wild horse and it is different than domestic wild horses.
The visible differences between Przewalski horses and domestic horses
- Przewalski horses have similar colors that resulted from natural selection
- Domestic horses are variety of colors that are the results of artificial selection
- The manes of domestic horses are long, have a falling forelock, and long guard hairs all over the tail
- The manes of Przewalski horses are erect with no forelock and the upper par of the tail has short guard hairs as a result of shed their tail and mane once per year
The invisible differences between Przewalski horses and domestic horses
- The domestic horse has 64 chromosomes
- The Przewalksi horse has 66 chromosomes
Przewalski’s horses became extinct
Around early 1890, the Przewalski’s horse was recognized as a true wild horse species as a result of specimens which were collected by several expeditions after N.M.Przewalksi’s. Animal dealers wanted to add Przewalkis’s horses into their collections and started to send their experts to the Mongolian Gobi to collect the horses from the wild. During 1897-1903, foreign expeditions hired local Mongolians and caught 88 Przewalski’s horse foals from the Mongolian Gobi. Due to the lack of experience in handling wild animals, only 54 of the foals survived after long and hard travel to Europe. The pedigree analysis of the 54 originally imported horses from Mongolia showed that only 12 had influence in the present breeding line.
There are now more then 2000 Przewalski’s horses in zoos, semi reserves and reintroduction sites in more than 30 countries and 5 continents. All wild horses at present descended from only 12 individuals which were the foundation of a captive breeding program. As a result of limited number of founders, the populations’s inbreeding coefficient increased genetic diversity decreased and life expectancy shortened.
The last Przewalski’s horse was seen in Mongolia in 1969. Since then several expeditions were organized to find Przewalski’s horses, but none succeeded. The horse population went extinct in the wild in Mongolia because of over hunting for meat, fire arms, harsh winter droughts (Zud) and catching the foals.
Foundation of Hustai National Park
In 1972, Jan Bouman was traveling around world with his wife and they found poor wild horse in Paris zoos. Knowing the story of this extinct animal, they decided to return the Przewalski’s horse back to nature.
In 1990, Jan Bouman visited Mongolia and selected the best possible site for the wild horses reintroduction. Subsequently he established The Foundation for the Preservation and Protection of the Przewalski’s Horse and Hustai National Park to implement the Przewalski’s horse. Since the Przewalksi’s horse was extinct in nature, the only way to save the species was to manage genetically valuable captive Przewalksi’s horses and eventually reintroduce them back into the wild.
Thanks to the the enormous effort of The Foundation for the Preservation and Protection of the Przewalski’s Horse and Mongolian Assocation for the Conservation of Nature and the Environment that the first 15 Przewalski’s horses were transported successfully to Hustai National Park in 1992. It was the day of World Environmental Day and many people’s dream came true. Today the Hustai National Park has the largest population of Przewalski’s horses in one area in the wild. There are more than 400 wild horses in the national park. The horses are conservative and tend to stay close to their natal place. This is why most of the wild horses of hustai national park always graze inside the park even tough it is not fenced.
Since its establishment more than 100 different research programs have been undertaken in this park. Hustai national park is the most successful wildlife project that is self-financed with its own income and resources.
Wildlife in Hustai National Park
- Mongolian gazelle – over 500 individuals
- Argali wild sheep – over 50 individuals
- Red deer – 1300 individuals
- Siberian roe deer
- Arctic hare
- Black stork
- Demoiselle crane
- Mongolian lark
- Saker Falcon
- Steppe Eagle
- Upland buzzard
- Cinereous vulture
- Golden eagle
- Amur falcon
- Himalayan vulture
- Grey wold
- Eurasion lynx
- Red fox
- Pallas cat
Hustai National Park works closely with people living within the buffer zone to support and establish relationships with herder communities. There are 30 communities of local people and herders in this buffer zone.
Flora and Fauna
There are around 200 species of forage plants, 250 species of melliferous plants (that have resources harvested by bees sch as nectar, pollen, propolis and honeydew), and over 200 species of medical plants that grow in the park.
- 33 species of fungus (mushrooms) – 12 of them edible
- 85 species of lichens – most of them grown on the surface of rocks and on stony soil
- 90 species of mosses
In addition to the natural environment you may also visit ancient archaeological sites. Some sites of note are the rectangular graves from the bronze age and man stones from the Turkic are.
Adopt a Foal
Feel free to give donation and name a Przewalski’s horse foal. You will receive an official certificate.
Hustai National Park Tour Ger Camp (Hustai mountains camp)
There are a couple of tourist Ger camps called Hustai and Moilt in Hustai National Park (Khustain Nuruu). The camps provide accommodation in comfortable traditional Gers or rooms as well as a restaurant which serves various delicious meals. Other amenities such as showers and modern toilets also are available.