Hustai National Park – Mongolia
The Hustai National Park (also known as Khustain Nuruu National Park) is located in the Töv Province of Mongolia, less than 60 miles from the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar. A city of more than one million people, Ulaanbaatar is the cultural and economic heart of the country containing nearly half the population of Mongolia. From the Chinggis Khaan International Airport in Ulaanbaatar it is about a two to three hour drive over mostly unpaved road to Hustai National Park. With an area of nearly 200 square miles, the Hustai National Park extends from the Tuul River, on the western edge of the Mongolian steppe, west through the Khentii Mountains.
The Hustai National Park was created in 1993. In 2002, Hustai National Park became a UNESCO world biosphere reserve, through its efforts to reconcile the conservation of biological and cultural diversity with economic and social development and promote sustainable development through partnerships with the local community. The Hustai National Park Trust was established in 2003 and has since managed the national park under an agreement with the Mongolian Government. The Hustai National Park is one of the best-managed national parks in Mongolia and was the first Mongolian national park to be managed by a non-governmental organization.
Hustai National Park is home to over 40 species of mammals including the Przewalski’s horse (Equus ferus), Mongolian gazelle (Procapra gutturosa), Siberian roe deer (Capreolus pygargus), red deer (Cervus elaphus), wild boar (Sus scrofa), argali mountain sheep (Ovis ammon), Siberian ibex (Capra sibirica), Mongolian marmot (Marmota sibirica), gray wolf (Canis lupus), corsac fox (Vulpes corsac), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), and Pallas’s cat (Otocolobus manul). Hustai National Park contains nearly 220 species of birds include great bustard (Otis tarda), bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus), little owl (Athene noctua), black stork (Ciconia nigra), daurian partridge (Perdix dauurica) and golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), as well as nearly 390 species of insects that live in the Hustai National Park. There are nearly 460 species of vascular plants in The Hustai National Park with rather large patches of birch and aspen forests.
The star attraction of the Hustai National Park is its herd of over 200 Przewalski’s horses, also called Takhi. This rare and endangered species of the only remaining wild horse in the world is native to the steppes of Mongolia. The horse was named after the Russian colonel Nikolai Przhevalsky (the name is of Polish origin and “Przewalski” is the Polish spelling), an explorer and naturalist who first described the horse in 1881. By the end of the 1950s, only 12 individual Przewalski’s horses were left in the world and by 1969 the Przewalski’s horse was extinct in the wild.
In 1977, Jan and Inge Bouman formed the Foundation for the Preservation and Protection of the Przewalski horse in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. This foundation started a program of exchange between captive populations in zoos throughout the world to reduce inbreeding, and later began a Przewalski horse breeding program. In 1998 the Przewalski horse was reintroduced into Hustai National Park from the captive bred population.