18 November 2006

Przewalski's Horse

There was an interesting show on PBS' Wild Things a few nights ago about Przewalski's horse. These are the only remaining wild horses in the world, and they nearly became extinct in the last century. They are the steppe horses of Mongolia, western China, and eastern Kazakhstan. The show was about attempts to reintroduce these horses to their native habitat from which they became extinct 30-40 years ago.

The horse is named after Nikolai Przewalski, a famous Russian explorer in Central Asia who "discovered" the horse. I had to snicker when the narrator said that, since the people living in Central Asia had noticed they were there long before. Przewalski died in what is now Kyrgyzstan because he drank the water and is buried near Issyk Kul. Karakol was named after him (small wonder they changed the name) during (some of) the Soviet years. As I recall, Ella Maillart writes about these horses in Turkestan Solo, but I can't remember what the local name was for them- it's takhi in Mongolian.

Mostly I was just pleased to see something about Central Asia on PBS. They showed a Kazakh family, which was interesting since the Kazakhs in China are the only nomadic Kazakhs left. China hasn't been anywhere near as forceful in settling nomads or requiring Chinese as the Soviets did with Russian. Of course, it's all relative. China has been plenty forceful in other areas.


  1. There are wild mustangs west of us in the Nevada desert.

  2. Those mustangs are actually feral, since they're descended from domesticated horses. These horses in Central Asia have never been domesticated.

    Hardly matters though, doesn't it?