Saving the last wild horse species through GPS satellite tracking and community involvement

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Conservation Ecology Center
Publié: 20 novembre 2019
Dernière modification: 02 octobre 2020
remove_red_eye 724 Vues


Scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Conservation Ecology Center are working to save Przewalski’s horses (Equus ferus przewalskii), the last surviving wild horse species.


The team of experts partnered with China’s Xinjiang Forestry Department and The Wilds to develop new, cutting-edge GPS tracking devices that are small, solar-powered transmitters that can be braided into the tail hair of a horse.


Smithsonian scientists also worked with partners reintroducing the horses back into the wild, to build capacity of project staff and students, and to increase local community involvement through workshops, discussion groups, and the establishment of a scouting program. The latter provides critical economic opportunity for local people through participation in monitoring the horses during winter.




Asie de l'Est
Échelle de la mise en œuvre
Prairie tempérée, savane, maquis
Toundra, prairie montane
Écosystémes des prairies
Acteurs locaux
Gestion des espèces
Moyens d'existence durables
Science et recherche
Perte de biodiversité
Utilisations conflictuelles / impacts cumulatifs
Objectifs de Développement Durable
ODD 15 - Vie terrestre
Obectifs d'Aichi
Objectif 1: Sensibilisation accrue de la biodiversité
Objectif 2: Valeurs de la biodiversité intégrées
Objectif 12: Réduction du risque d'extinction
Objectif 13: Sauvegarde de la diversité génétique


Xinjiang, People's Republic of China | Kalamaili Nature Reserve in Xinjiang, Hustai Nuruu National Park in Mongolia

Les impacts positifs

New, lighter GPS tracking transmitters are deployable without a collar, providing an opportunity for innovating new methods that are comfortable for horses. This would also make it possible to track stallions, who can’t be tracked with collars because they get destroyed when they fight other males. The new transmitters are also solar powered, which extends their lifetime beyond what is currently possible with conventional tracking collars. These innovations could allow researchers to monitor the horses more effectively, better understand their ecology and ecosystem, and use what they learn to enhance their chances for their long-term survival. Understanding the movement ecology of the horses is crucial for conservation management.


Przewalski’s horses used to range freely in the wild and are integral to a healthy steppe ecosystem. Reintroducing these horses to the wild strengthens and expands their population -- maintaining biodiversity and bringing the species back from the brink of extinction.


"Conservation has to be built on science, but science cannot be successful without people,” says Melissa Songer Conservation Ecologist at Smithsonian. With this belief in mind, Smithsonian scientists work to engage the local community through training and by hiring local people to participate in data collection. The capacity-building and involvement of local communities is key to success.



Contribué par

Smithsonian Institution