Rafilia T. Bakirova, PhD, Director of the Joint Directorate of State Nature Reserves «Orenburg» and «Shaitan-Tau» (Donetskaya Street, 2/2, Orenburg, 460001, Russia); e-mail:
Tatjana L. Zharkikh, Head of the Reintroduction Centre for the Przewalski Horse of the Joint Directorate of State Nature Reserves «Orenburg» and «Shaitan-Tau» (Donetskaya Street, 2/2, Orenburg, 460001, Russia); e-mail:
Evgeniy A. Bulgakov, Specialist of the Reintroduction Centre for the Przewalski Horse of the Joint Directorate of State Nature Reserves «Orenburg» and «Shaitan-Tau» (Donetskaya Street, 2/2, Orenburg, 460001, Russia); e-mail:

Reference to article

Bakirova R.T., Zharkikh T.L., Bulgakov E.A. 2019. The initial stage of the development of the semi-free population of the Przewalski's horse in the Orenburg State Nature Reserve (Russia). Nature Conservation Research 4(Suppl.2): 49–56.

Section Resarch articles

The Joint Directorate of the State Nature Reserves «Orenburg» and «Shaitan-Tau» (later – FSFI «Orenburg Reserves») elaborated the Programme on establishing a semi-free population of the Przewalski's horse in the Orenburg State Nature Reserve (Russia). It was launched in a 165.38 km2 natural steppe area called «Pre-Urals Steppe». The first stage of the Programme was funded by the UNDP/GEF Steppe Project 00072294 «Improving the Coverage and Management Efficiency of Protected Areas in the Steppe Biome of Russia» and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Russian Federation. The Pre-Urals Steppe was totally fenced to prevent the escape of Przewalski's horses from the strictly protected area. A Reintroduction Centre was constructed inside the fenced area. The Centre consists of permanent acclimatisation enclosures for horses, touristic infrastructure and a house for personnel (the ranger-station). All the work with Przewalski horses in the Pre-Urals Steppe are financed from the federal budget on permanent basis. A total of 36 Przewalski's horses were brought to the Pre-Urals Steppe from the Association pour le Cheval de Przewalski: TAKH, France, and the Hortobagy National Park, Hungary in 2015–2017. The horses were kept in the enclosures for about one year or more before being released into the main area. In March 2019, there were two free-roaming harems in the Pre-Urals Steppe. A third harem and a bachelor group are still kept in acclimatisation enclosures. One foal and six foals were born in 2016 and 2018 accordingly. The foaling rate was 50% in 2018. One of the imported harem stallions is probably infertile, despite the fact that he was many times observed mating his females and in general, demonstrating normal sexual behaviour. The mortality of the imported Przewalski's horses is 8.3%; foal mortality totals 28.6%. There are 38 Przewalski's horses (16 males and 22 females) in the Pre-Urals Steppe area on 31 March 2019. The personnel of the Reintroduction Centre examine the whole Przewalski's horse population regularly. They identify the animals and watch their body condition and behaviour. The location of each free-roaming group is recorded with a GPS navigator. Any changes in the composition of the groups are recorded. Faeces are collected from each individual monthly for calculating parasite eggs in the samples. Every year a reserve stock of hay to feed the Przewalski's horses in the Pre-Urals Steppe is made to pass potential natural disaster such as severe drought, a snowy winter and/or heavy icing. Various scientific research including both Przewalski's horses and other components of local ecosystems is conducted in the Pre-Urals Steppe. The initial stage of the Programme has been successfully completed.


acclimatisation, demography, Equus ferus przewalskii, foaling rate, population management, mortality, reintroduction, transportation

Artice information

Received: 08.04.2019. Revised: 26.05.2019. Accepted: 02.06.2019.

The full text of the article

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