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Wolves

Mares circle their foalsIt is remarkable how wonderful Hustai's Przewalski horses have learned to deal with their largest natural enemies, the wolves. Despite a history of thirteen generations in captivity they stand up for themselves in a way that commands respect. Hustai National Park has a high density of wolves. The rangers repeatedly witnessed that in case of an attack the mares would round up to form a defensive circle around the vulnerable foals. While trotting around his mares the stallion charges. The mares that are without foal will help him. For small harems it is much more difficult to avert an assault. A foal defended only by two mares has little hope of surviving an attack.

Foal hurt by wolvesFully grown Przewalski horses have nothing to fear from wolves. Foals, however, all the more. Especially during the first seven days of their lives. Some mares choose to seclude themselves from the other harem members just before and during foaling. In case of an attack such a mother will be helpless. The wolves could easily maim or even kill her foal.

We may conclude that Hustai's Przewalski horses have proven to adapt themselves rather well to the demanding circumstances in the wild. Yet, long-term behavioural research will still be of great importance to find out how the growing number of groups are going to cope with the mutual competition for water and other natural resources. Study of spatial distribution, social behaviour and habitat use in interaction with other wildlife with which they share the ecosystem of the steppe.