Behavioural ecology ofPrzewalski horses (Equus przewalskii) reintroduced to Hustai National Park, Mongolia
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Studies on the behavioural ecology of Przewalski horses (Equus przewalskiiy recently reintroduced into Hustai National Park, Mongolia were carried out between 1998 and 2000. Home range size and habitat use, social, marking, and vigilance behaviour, and their reaction to flies were quantified. Home ranges of harems ranged from 129 ha to 2399 ha, with core areas of between 61 ha and 1196 ha. There was no relationship between range size and harem size, or length of time since release. The more nutritious vegetation at lower elevations was preferentially selected. The horses rested near ridges during the hotter parts of the day where there were fewer flies, and grazed in the valleys in the mornings and evenings. Woodland areas were used to shelter from the sun, despite their high fly abundance. Muscid flies were most frequently caught; Tabanids were rare. Dominance was related to age, aggression and length of time in the harem. The frequency of associative behaviours did not correlate with any social factor, but had a hygienic function. Stallions marked stud piles wid mare eliminations in different ways suggesting different functions. In addition to being vigilant for predators, the horses appeared to scan for social cues and food patches. Home range size and habitat use, and general pattern of marking and vigilance behaviour, of the wild Przewalski horses were similar to those seen among feral domestic horses, although they tended to be less aggressive than captive and feral horses. So far, the re-establishment of przewalski horses into HNP appears to have been successful, although constant monitoring of the population is necessary. As the population grows, there will be potential problems to do with exceeding the carrying capacity of the park and hybridisation with domestic horses. The future management of the horses is discussed.
AuthorsKing, Sarah Rachel Buckley
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