This installment of my occasional series “Five Photos of Favorite Places” features Hustai National Park, one of the three places in Mongolia where takhi/Przewalski’s horse has been reintroduced and by far the easiest to get to, since it’s only a two hour drive from Ulaanbaatar, the capital, and most of that is on tarmac road. You can view the other parts by scrolling down the Categories drop down menu in the right hand column to “5 Photos….
Takhi stallion, April 2005- This was from my first trip to Mongolia in spring of 2005. It was freezing cold, literally, and it was very windy. But I was enchanted with my first look at the world’s only true wild horse running free (I’d seen them for the very first time at the Berlin Zoo in October 2004). To me, this head shot sums up what they are about…a very special horse that looks like it just stepped out of a cave painting.
Takhi foals, September 2008. I always look forward to seeing the new generation when I visit Hustai and of course the foals are fun to watch as they romp around and play. There are now around 300 takhi in Hustai and they are doing well. The world population, counting both captive and reintroduced horses is around 2000. A studbook established in 1978 keeps track of every one of them.
Siberian marmot, July 2010. Hustai is one of the few places left where one can see marmots in any number. Their population crashed by close to 90% due to demand for their pelts by the Chinese. Now they are an endangered species where once there were millions. I’d gone to Hustai for the weekend with I driver I’d had before, but no guide, and Onroo didn’t speak English. But we got along fine with my little bit of Mongolian and a phrase book. It is a running joke between us that we will always stop for “taravak”….marmots, so I can try to get a good photo like this one.
Hustai landscape, August 2011. “Hustai” means “birch” in Mongolian. There are birch woods like these above a certain elevation on the mountains in the park. You can see two grazing takhi in the middle. From this point on up to the bare rocks like you can see in the background “bokh”, or elk, are to be found, the same genus as the Rocky Mountain and Roosevelt elk of the United States, but a different species.
Birches and blue sky, September 2012. Last year was the latest that I had visited the park and so I saw the fall colors for the first time. And they were spectacular!