The Przewalski’s horse has received a boost in China, with the birth of six foals during the breeding season in a nature reserve in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
The People’s Daily Online reported that the number of Przewalski’s horses in the region had risen to more than 300, with 134 in Fuyun County alone.
The Karamay State Nature Reserve confirmed the arrival of the foals since July.
Officials welcomed the births, saying unstable weather, with a snowless, cold winter and a hot, drought-filled spring had not been ideal for the species.
It put the success of the season down to protection efforts and the creation of multiple water sources in the reserve.
The Przewalski’s horse is the only surviving horse subspecies never to have been domesticated.
It was once common in Eurasia but hunting and habitat destruction led to their extinction in the wild. This was officially declared in 1969.
China started a breeding program in 1986 using horses brought back from Britain and Germany to repopulate the subspecies. Scores of horses bred through the program have since been released to the wild.
Today, fewer than 2000 Przewalski’s horses survive – making them even rarer than pandas.
Most live in Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan.
The Przewalski’s horse was named after a Russian colonel who led an expedition into their rangelands in 1881.