Zhigang Jiang, PhD, Professor of the Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Executive Director of the Endangered Species Scientific Commission (P.R. China, Beijing, 100101, China); e-mail:,
Hao Zong, PhD, Professor of the Sichuan Normal University (Chengdu, 610066, China); e-mail:

Reference to article

Jiang Z., Zong H. 2019. Reintroduction of the Przewalski's horse in China: status quo and outlook. Nature Conservation Research 4(Suppl.2): 15–22.

Section Review articles

The Przewalski's horse Equus ferus przewalskii was extinct in the wild in the middle of the XX century. Since 1985, the Chinese government has formulated a three-step plan of «the introduction of captive breeding horses – establishing a semi-free population – the restoration of a population in the wild» and carried out the reintroduction of the Przewalski's horses. The first three batches of wild horses were introduced to Xinjiang Wild Horse Breeding Centre, Wuwei Endangered Species Breeding Centre and Beijing Nanhaizi Milu Park. After acclimation and captive breeding, those Przewalski's horses were softly released into the nature reserves in its original ranges in the Mt. Kalamaili Nature Reserve, the Anxi Extreme-arid Desert Nature Reserve and the Dunhuang West Lake Nature Reserve in the new millennium. The released horses are allowed to retain to the large fenced areas at releasing sites with supplementary feed and water. Thus, the wild horses in Chine formed the Xinjiang population, the Wuwei-Dunhuang population and the Beijing-Anxi population. All 23 wild horses that survived in Anxi Extreme-arid Desert Nature Reserve in 2017 were born after the re-translocation from Beijing Nanhaizi Milu Park. The number of wild horses in the Beijing Nanhaizi Milu Park increased from two in 1998 to five by the end of 2018. By the end of 2018, there are 413 wild horse descendants from the reintroduced herd in the Xinjiang population. Among them, 89 wild horses were kept in the breeding paddocks of the Xinjiang Wild Horse Breeding Centre, 102 were semi-free ranging in the fenced area of the centre, and 221 re-wild horses lived in the Mt. Kalamaili Nature Reserve. Meanwhile, the Przewalski's horse population in the Dunhuang West Lake Nature Reserve increased to 60. The Wuwei Endangered Animal Breeding Centre released seven wild horses in its Minqin Qinghu Base near the Badanjilin desert. Habitat deterioration, inbreeding, parasitic diseases, wolf predation, infanticide and crossbreeding with domestic horses are the major problems in all Przewalski's horse populations in China. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Working Group downgraded the Przewalski's wild horse to the status of «Endangered» mainly based on the status of wild horses in Mongolia. Nevertheless, the Red List category of Przewalski's horse in China was still «Extinct in Wild» because the wild horses in these populations still need artificial supplementary feed and water, also need to add new breeding individuals. Thus, real wild population has not yet been established in China.


Anxi Extreme Arid Desert Nature Reserve, Beijing Nanhaizi Milu Park, captive breeding, Dunhuang West Lake Nature Reserve, Equus ferus przewalskii, Kalamaili Nature Reserve, re-wilding, soft releasing, Wuwei Endangered Animal Breeding Centre, Xinjiang Wild Horse Breeding Centre

Artice information

Received: 22.04.2019. Revised: 30.05.2019. Accepted: 02.06.2019.

The full text of the article

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