The Zongongian Wild Mountain Horse was once a common sight on the hills and mountains of Zongongia, and nearby in what are now Kerlile and Lauchenoiria. However, since the 1920s, their numbers have been declining – until now. For the first time since the beginning of the decline, conservationists have seen an increase in their population over the past year. The species has been classified as ‘endangered’, largely due to human influence in the area.
Conservationists are hopeful that this is indicative of a change in the fate of the species, which scientists predicted would likely become extinct by 2035. Conservation efforts have included halting human activity near breeding grounds, methods to encourage mating, and attempts at breeding in captivity – though the latter has consistently failed. The exact reason for this turnaround remains unknown, but will undoubtedly be closely studied by ecologists.
Compared with domesticated horses, the Zongongian Wild Mountain Horse is considerably lighter, while being of comparable strength; and has shorter legs and longer hair. The horses can, however, interbreed with domestic horses – one of the causes of their decline. After Zongongians began taking measures to prevent intact domestic horses from coming into contact with the wild horses, however, this problem has largely been solved.
The wild horses are very popular in Zongongia, and among tourists to the country; with most tourist shops containing wild horse themed merchandise. Tours to see the horses are much less common since conservation efforts began, but a limited number still take place which raise money to help fund the conservation efforts. It is hopeful that their numbers will continue to increase; and that the Zongongian Wild Mountain Horse will remain a sight on the mountains of Zongongia for centuries to come.