Daniel Klich, PhD, Assistant Professor of the Department of Genetics and Animal Breeding of the Warsaw University of Life Sciences–SGGW (Ciszewskiego 8, 02−786 Warsaw, Poland); 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:
Rafał Łopucki, PhD, Assistant Professor of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research of the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin (Konstantynów 1J, 20−708 Lublin, Poland); e-mail:
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:
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:
Vladimir Yu. Petrov, 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

Klich D., Zharkikh T.L., Łopucki R., Bakirova R.T., Bulgakov E.A., Petrov V.Yu. 2019. The space use by Przewalski's horses of the semi-free population during first years after their reintroduction to Orenburg State Nature Reserve, Russia. Nature Conservation Research 4(Suppl.2): 41–48.

Section Research articles

In 2015, the Joint Directorate of State Nature Reserves «Orenburg» and «Shaitan-Tau» (FSFI «Orenburg Reserves») launched the Programme on establishing a semi-free population of the Przewalski's horse Equus ferus przewalskii in the 165 km2 Pre-Urals Steppe site of Orenburg State Nature Reserve (Russia). The aim of this study is to analyse the space use by two harem groups of the Przewalski's horse during the first years after release from acclimatisation enclosures. The study conducted from October 2016 to March 2019 and started when the first group of horses had been released from the acclimatisation enclosure to the main territory of Pre-Urals Steppe. Locations of harems were analysed separately for two periods: winter and snow-free. We compared location points in preferred areas (assessed by Kernel Density Estimation 50%) and other (random locations) with regard distance to acclimatisation enclosures, to a local zoo, and to ponds (only for snow-free period). The horses preferred to be closer to the acclimatisation enclosures and the local zoo during the winter period, but tended to avoid the zoo during the snow-free period. The distance between free-ranging harem groups was shorter during the winter than in the snow-free period. We also found a higher tendency of one group to be closer to the acclimatisation enclosures and the zoo. The presence of other horses within the area of release is an obvious attraction factor for free-ranging individuals and groups. We are of the opinion that it is due to needs to occasionally interact with horses of other groups regardless of whether it is aggression or attachment. Females seemed to contribute significantly in interband relationships of Przewalski's horses in Pre-Urals Steppe. Such social needs may facilitate a whole population's integrity, as acclimatisation enclosures with groups of horses inside will be an anchor that holds free-ranging horses within the site of reintroduction. On the other hand, free-ranging Przewalski's horses will leave an unfenced protected area with no guarantee to come back as soon as they detect other horses outside the reserve border. The difference in the distance between groups and the lower association needs in the snow-free period indicates the necessity for proper planning of a suitable area for free-ranging populations of Przewalski's horses.


distribution, Equus ferus przewalskii, Kernel Density Estimation, Pre-Urals Steppe, space use

Artice information

Received: 12.04.2019. Revised: 06.05.2019. Accepted: 08.05.2019.

The full text of the article

Bahloul K., Pereladova O.B., Soldatova N., Fisenko G., Sidorenko E., Sempéré A.J. 2001. Social organization and dispersion of introduced kulans (Equus hemionus kulan) and Przewalski horses (Equus przewalski) in the Bukhara Reserve, Uzbekistan. Journal of Arid Environments 47(3): 309–323. DOI: 10.1006/jare.2000.0714
Bailey D. 2016. Dominance Hierarchies in Horses: Comparing and Contrasting Different Methods for Assessing Hierarchies. Ursidae: The Undergraduate Research Journal at the University of Northern Colorado 5(3): 1–14.
Bakirova R.T., Zharkikh T.L. 2019. Programme on establishing a semi-free population of Przewalski's horse in Orenburg State Nature Reserve: the first successful project on the reintroduction of the species in Russia. Nature Conservation Research. 4(Suppl. 2). DOI: 10.24189/ncr.2019.021
Bouman I. 1998. The reintroduction of Przewalski's horses in the Hustain Nuruu Mountain Forest Steppe Reserve in Mongolia. Nederlandsche Commissie voor Internationale Natuurbescherming. Mededelingen. Vol. 32. 50 p.
Boyd L.E. 1988. Time budgets of adult Przewalski horses: effects of sex, reproductive status and enclosure. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 21(1–2): 19–39. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2006.09.023
Chen J.L., Weng Q., Chao J., Hu D., Taya K. 2008. Reproduction and Development of the Released Przewalski's Horses (Equus przewalskii) in Xinjiang, China. Journal of Equine Science 19(1): 1–7. DOI: 10.1294/jes.19.1
Chibilev A.A. 2015. A remark of the principal investigator of the project «Orenburg Tarpania». Steppe Bulletin 45: 65–66. [In Russian]
Christensen P., Burrows N. 1995. Project desert dreaming: experimental reintroduction of mammals to the Gibson Desert, Western Australia. In: M. Serena (Ed.): Reintroduction Biology of Australian and New Zealand Fauna. Sydney: Surrey Beatty and Sons. P. 199–207.
Dorj U., Namkhai B. 2013. Reproduction and mortality of re-introduced Przewalski's Horse Equus przewalskii in Hustai National Park, Mongolia. Journal of Life Sciences 7(6): 623–629.
Fedorov N.I., Mikhailenko O.I., Zharkikh T.L., Bakirova R.T. 2018. Mapping of vegetation with the geoinformation system and determining of carrying capacity of the Pre-Urals Steppe area for a newly establishing population of the Przewalski Horse Equus ferus przewalskii at the Orenburg State Nature Reserve. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science 107: 012100. DOI:10.1088/1755-1315/107/1/012100
Kaczensky P., Ganbataar O., Altansukh N., Enkhsaikhan N., Stauffer C., Walzer C. 2011. The danger of having all your eggs in one basket – winter crash of the re-introduced Przewalski's horses in the Mongolian Gobi. PLoS ONE 6(12): e28057. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028057
Kaczensky P., Ganbaatar O., von Wehrden H., Walzer C. 2008. Resource selection by sympatric wild equids in the Mongolian Gobi. Journal of Applied Ecology 45(6): 1762–1769. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2008.01565.x
King S.R.B. 2002. Home range and habitat use of free-ranging Przewalski horses at Hustai National Park, Mongolia. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 78(2–4): 103–113. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2005.01.034
King S.R.B. 2012. Behavioural ecology of Przewalski horses (Equus przewalskii) reintroduced to Hustai National Park, Mongolia. PhD Thesis. London: Queen Mary University of London.
Kuemmerle T., Perzanowski K., Chaskovskyy O., Ostapowicz K., Halada L., Bashta A.T., Kruhlov I., Hostert P., Waller D.M., Radeloff V.C. 2010. European bison habitat in the Carpathian Mountains. Biological Conservation 143(4): 908–916. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2009.12.038
Landa A., Flagstad Ø., Areskoug V., Linnell J.D., Strand O., Ulvund K.R., Thierry A.-M., Rød-Eriksen L., Eide N.E. 2017. The endangered Arctic fox in Norway – the failure and success of captive breeding and reintroduction. Polar Research 36(sup1.): 9. DOI: 10.1080/17518369.2017.1325139
Łopucki R., Klich D., Gielarek S. 2017. Do terrestrial animals avoid areas close to turbines in functioning wind farms in agricultural landscapes? Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 189(7): 343. DOI: 10.1007/s10661-017-6018-z
Moorhouse T.P., Gelling M., Macdonald D.W. 2009. Effects of habitat quality upon reintroduction success in water voles: evidence from a replicated experiment. Biological Conservation 142(1): 53–60. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2008.09.023
Pereladova O.B., Sempéeré A.J., Soldatova N.V., Dutov V.U., Fisenko G., Flint V.E. 1999. Przewalski's horse – adaptation to semi-wild life in desert conditions. Oryx 33(1): 47–58. DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-3008.1999.00038.x
Reading R.P., Clark T.W., Kellert S.R. 2002. Towards an endangered species reintroduction paradigm. Endangered Species Update 19(4): 142–146.
Ryder O.A. 1993. Przewalski's horse: prospects for reintroduction into the wild. Conservation Biology 7(1): 13–15. DOI: 10.1046/j.1523-1739.1993.07010013.x
Tweed E.J., Foster J.T., Woodworth B.L., Oesterle P., Kuehler C., Lieberman A.A., Powers A.T., Whitaker K., Monahan W.B., Kellerman J., Telfer T. 2003. Survival, dispersal, and home-range establishment of reintroduced captive-bred puaiohi, Myadestes palmeri. Biological Conservation 111(1): 1–9. DOI: 10.1016/S0006-3207(02)00175-1
Waring G.H. 2003. Horse behavior. Norwich – New York: Noyes publication – William Andrew Publishing. 442 p.
Zharkikh T.L. 2000. Peculiarities of reproduction and sexual behaviour of the Przewalski horses Equus przewalskii (Perissodactyla) of the Askanian population. Vestnik Zoologii. 34(4–5): 77–86. [In Russian]
Zharkikh T.L., Andersen L. 2009. Behaviour of bachelor males of the Przewalski horse (Equus ferus przewalskii) at the Reserve «Askania Nova». Der Zoologische Garten 78(5–6): 282–299. DOI: 10.1016/j.zoolgart.2009.10.005
Zharkikh T.L., Yasynetska N.I., Zvegintsova N.S. 2002. Przewalski horse in the Zone of Chernobyl nuclear power. Gazella 29: 93–111.
Zimmermann W., Brabender K., Kolter L. 2009. A Przewalski's horse population in a unique European steppe reserve – the Hortobágy Nationalpark in Hungary. In: Symposium proceedings Equus. Praha: Praha Zoo. P. 257–288.
Xia C., Cao J., Zhang H., Ga, X., Yang W., Blank D. 2014. Reintroduction of Przewalski's horse (Equus ferus przewalskii) in Xinjiang, China: the status and experience. Biological Conservation 177: 142–147. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2014.06.021