Twenty-one highly-endangered Przewalski’s horses have been returned to the wild in a nature reserve in China.
The horses were released into the National Nature Reserve in Dunhuang in northwest China’s Gansu province on Thursday, China Daily reported.
Their release follows a successful trial that turned seven horses loose in the same area in 2010.
“So far, everything goes well. All the horses have adapted to their new home and none have health problems,” Sun Zhicheng, an official from the nature reserve, told the newspaper.
The horses had travelled well during a 10-hour road journey to the reserve and were thoroughly checked before release.
The Przewalski’s horse is considered the only remaining species of wild horse.
It was once common in Eurasia but hunting and habitat destruction led to their extinction in the wild.
However, a zoo breeding program has maintained the breed and more than 1000 Przewalski’s horses now survive in zoos around the world.
In the 1980s, a program began to return a number of the horses to their natural habitat.
The number of Przewalski horses in the National Nature Reserve has grown from 18 in the 1980s to 75.
Zhao Chongxue, deputy director of the center, said one concern in the reserve was maintaining water supplies, which had been affected by exploitation of groundwater.
Park staff had dug 10 new springs this year to help the horses, and personnel break ice in winter to ensure their water supply.