Hustain Nuruu Nature Reserve. Sights of intersest.
THE REGIONS OF MONGOLIA
SIGHTS OF INTEREST IN MONGOLIA
KHUSTAIN NURUU NATURE RESERVE
The nature reserve is about 100km (62mi) south-west of Ulaanbaatar. The
Khustain Nuruu Nature Reserve was established in 1993 to preserve Mongolia's
wild Takhi horses and the steppe environment in which they live. The Takhi is
probably the most recognized and successful symbol of Mongolia's diverse and
unique wildlife. Also known as Przewalski's horse (named after the Pole who
first took an interest in them), the Takhi used to roam the countryside in great
herds. In the 1960s they almost became extinct because poachers killed them for
meat, and because development and livestock overgrazing reduced their fodder. In
the early 1990s, with assistance from international environmental groups, many
Takhi were reintroduced into specially protected areas in the 90,000ha
(222,300acre) Khustain Nuruu and in the south Gobi. About 200 now live in this
park or in the wild. In addition to the Takhi, there are populations of maral
(Asiatic red deer), steppe gazelle, deer, boar, manul wild cat, wolf and lynx. A
visit to the park has become a popular overnight excursion from Ulaanbaator in
to the park is a one-time fee of US$15. It's worth spending at
least one night in the park as you are most likely to see Takhi and other
wildlife at dusk or dawn.
The park is run by the Mongolian Association for the Conservation of Nature
and the Environment (MACNE), with the cooperation of the Foundation Reserves for
the Przewalski Horse (FRPH) and the support of the Dutch government.
The information centre at the entrance to Khustai National Park has a ger
with displays on the park and the Takhi horse, as well as a small souvenir shop.
Ten kilometres South into the park's core area is the former park headquarters,
where there is a Takhi enclosure. Another 10km or so West is the Moilt camp,
where there is cabin-style accommodation.
The park is starting to offer horse riding, hiking, jeep excursions and
fishing in an effort to make the park self-financing. Several hiking routes have
been established. One good hike takes you from the visitors center to Moilt camp
in about four to five hours.
A good horse riding trip takes you to some Turkic graves in the south-east of
the park and then on to the Tuul Gol. With your own jeep you can drive to the
Moilt camp, stopping at Takhi enclosures en route. Park regulations require you
to take a park guide and stick only to existing tracks. Wildlife watching is
best at dusk and at dawn. One of the best places to head for is the Tuul Gol,
where Takhi usually come to drink in the evening.
Camping on your own is not allowed inside the park so have to camp outside
the park boundary. There is a small ger camp at the entrance to the park.
To get to the park you have to travel 100km west of Ulaanbaatar, along the
road to Kharkhorin, where there is a signpost pointing you the 10km South to the
park entrance. There is no scheduled transportation to the park. You could hitch
or take a bus to the turn-off and walk.
TAKHI - THE REINTRODUCTION OF A SPECIES
The Mongolian wild horse is probably the most recognized and successful
symbol of the preservation and protection of Mongolia's diverse and unique
wildlife. The Takhi, also known as the Przewalski horse (named after the
Polish explorer who first 'discovered' the horse in 1878), used to roam the
countryside in great herds.
The last wild Mongolian Takhi was spotted in the western Gobi in 1969. At
that time, only about a dozen Takhi remained alive, living in zoos in Russia and
Europe. Special breeding programs in Australia, Germany, Switzerland and the
Netherlands have brought the numbers of Takhi outside of Mongolia to about 1500.
The entire global population of Takhi are now descended from the bloodline of
three stallions and so computerized records have been introduced to avoid
Between 1992 and 2000, with assistance from international environmental
agencies, Takhi were reintroduced into Mongolia at Khustai Nuruu, and Takhiin
Tal, in the South Gobi. Today there are currently 107 Takhi in Khustai and 59 in
The Takhi are the last remaining wild horse worldwide, the forerunner of the
domestic horse, as depicted in cave paintings in France. They are not simply
horses that have become feral, or wild, as found in the USA or Australia, but a
genetically different species, boasting two extra chromosomes in their DNA
make-up. The Takhi are sandy coloured except for a dark dorsal stripe. The tail
and legs are dark and the legs have zebra stripes. The skull and jaw is heavier
than a horse's, there is no forelock and the mane is short and erect.
New arrivals are kept in enclosures for a year to help them adapt to a new
climate. The laws of nature are allowed to run their course; an average of five
foals are killed by wolves every year in Khustai. The park gets locals onside by
hiring herders as rangers, offering cheap loans to others and offering
employment at the park's cheese-making factory on the outskirts of the park.
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