Concluding this series on postage stamps for now, today’s post features the two native equids of Mongolia, the takhi, traditionally known in the West as Przewalski’s horse, and the Khulan, one of a number of species of wild ass.
Takhi are the only remaining species of true wild horse. What Americans call “wild horses” or mustangs are really, simply, feral domestic horses. The two species diverged around 500,000 years ago, so the takhi is not the ancestor of modern horses, nor have any ever been successfully tamed, other than a few instances where a young horse was taught to tolerate humans riding it for a short time. The last wild takhi was a stallion seen in 1969. Captive animals started to be reintroduced to Mongolia in the early 1990s. Being a horse culture, the Mongols are very pleased to have takhi in their country again. And it’s not a surprise that they have been featured on a set of postage stamps.
Khulan are also known as the Mongolian wild ass. Their survival is threatened by habitat reduction and they are also subject to poaching. Not a great deal is known about their behavior or even their total numbers. However, there is an organization, started by a French researcher who is a friend of mine, which carries out the research needed to learn about the ecology of the animals and what their survival requirements are. You can find out more about her project here.
Unlike the takhi, which is a grassland species, the khulan live in the arid environment of the Gobi.