Przewalski's horse, otherwise known as P-horse, is named after Nikolai Przewalski (pronounced "shuh-val-skee"), a Russian explorer. In 1870, he was the first to discover sub-species of this horse. As a matter of fact, this animal is the last surviving true wild horse, from which the domestic horse originates. Przewalski's horse is almost the same size as related plains zebra, African wild ass and the domesticated burro. However, this ungulate hasn't been domesticated.
The natural range of this species covers certain regions of central Asia. Przewalski’s horses were formerly extinct in the wild. Last time these animals had been spotted in Mongolia back in 1966. However, Przewalski's horses have been successfully re-introduced to this country, where they currently inhabit the Khustain Nuruu National Park, Takhin Tal Nature Reserve and Khomiin Tal. Within this area, Przewalski’s horses inhabit steppes, shrub-lands as well as grasslands.
The Przewalski's horses are diurnal and gregarious animals that live in small herds consisting of 10 - 20 individuals. Groups of Przewalski’s horses are either harems or bachelor herds. The former typically consist of a single dominant male, 10 - 15 females and their offspring. The stallion of the harem is responsible for mating with females as well as defending the territory against outsiders, particularly other males. Hence, he can often be seen patrolling the boundaries of the harem's territory. Community members form very close bonds between each other. They feed together and practice mutual grooming. As for bachelor herds, these are loosely organized units, members of which often travel and feed solitarily. Within bachelor herds, social grooming is rarely observed.
Przewalski's horses maintain a herbivorous diet, which is generally composed of grass, plants and fruits, supplemented with tree bark, leaves and buds. Additionally, those living in zoos feed upon hay, grain and alfalfa.
Przewalski’s horses exhibit a harem defense polygynous mating system, in which the lead male mates with females of his herd. Przewalski’s horses mate during the spring months, typically in April-May. Gestation period lasts for 11 months (more precisely, 320-342 days), yielding one baby in April-June of the following year. Foals are born in a highly-developed state. As soon as being born, they are able to stand. Within one hour after birth, they begin to follow their mother. During the first 6 - 8 months of their lives, their diet is composed of maternal milk. After reaching maturity at 2 years old, males are chased away by the dominant male, who limits their access to the females of the herd. Mares, on the other hand, disperse and join other harems.
By the 1960s, Przewalski's horses were extinct in the wild, as a result of numerous factors such as continuous hunting, conflicts with humans, degradation of their natural habitat as well as competition for resources with domestic livestock. Although these ungulates are currently re-introduced into their natural range, they still suffer from various threats. For example, they compete for food and water with the related domestic horses. Additionally, Przewalski's horses are potentially threatened by interbreeding with domestic horses.
As reported by the Desert USA resource, the total population of this species is around 1,900 individuals, about 1500 of which inhabit the world's zoos and breeding reserves, while the remaining 400 compose re-introduced populations, which currently live in wildlife reserves, located within the original range of these animals. As stated on the IUCN Red List, the total number of all Przewalski’s horses in the world is 1,988 animals, including 1101 females, 883 males as well as 4 individuals whose gender is unknown. Meanwhile, Mongolia holds 387 free-ranging reintroduced and native-born individuals, which live in 3 areas of re-introduction. Overall, the species is currently classified as Endangered (EN), but its numbers are increasing.