Pan Tau, the Przewalski horse, participates in grazing project in Augsburg
On 12 October 2016, a new Przewalski horse from Hellabrunn Zoo joined a group of wild horses grazing in the Augsburg forest, an urban nature reserve, in a joint project with the Land Conversation Trust Augsburg. The aim of the grazing project is to introduce Przewalski horses to feed on grass to keep the heath and the pine forest free of high growth and thus preserve the habitat for many rare animal and plant species.
Hellabrunn Zoo has been involved in the setting up and expansion of semi-reserves for Przewalski horses for many years. Pan Tau is now the first wild horse from Hellabrunn to join the Przewalski group in Augsburg forest. After a few changes to the group last year, Norbert Pantel, the project manager at Land Conversation Trust Augsburg, is delighted to have the last newcomer, Pan Tau, arrive. "With five Przewalski horses we can achieve the desired grazing effect without supplementary feeding in winter", says Pantel.
The exchange was coordinated by the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) for Przewalski horses, which provides breeding and exchange recommendations in order to ensure the maximum possible genetic diversity in the population. The EEP for Przewalski horses manages 73 holdings in Europe with currently about 700 horses. Ten of these holdings, such as in Augsburg, are so-called semi-reserves, that is, large-scale enclosures with natural vegetation in which the animals are kept.
In addition to the group at the zoo, Hellabrunn's Przewalski horses are also engaged as conservationists on semi-reserves in Tennenlohe, Hanau, Giessen and the Hortobágy National Park in Hungary. "We also support important groundlaying research for the conservation breeding program and are currently financing an extensive genetic study on the Przewalski horse," explains Dr Christine Gohl, chief veterinarian at Hellabrunn and veterinary consultant on the European Endangered Species Programme for Przewalski horses.
There are currently six Przewalski horses living at Hellabrunn Zoo, four of which are mares.