Domesticated by humans over 3,500 years ago, the modern horse has long been inextricably linked with human progress.

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Protecting the Horse

Whilst it would seem that modern horses are in no danger of dying out, wild horses (which include the asses and zebras) are not in such an enviable position. Some species, such as the Przewalski wild horse, are in great danger of disappearing in the very near future unless something can be done to save them.

Photo: Denis Egan

Rapidly decreasing populations of wild asses live in Africa and Asia, and the three species of zebra are still found in parts of Africa.  Only one hundred years ago the last known wild Tarpan died. Attempts have been made to revive this interesting species of steppe horse by back-breeding, but the resulting horses, although very interesting, could never be regarded as authentic as their genes are still based on those of domesticated horses.

In 1883, another interesting member of the horse family became extinct when the last surviving Quagga died in Amsterdam Zoo. The Quagga was a large equid (horse-like animal) some 2.74 metres in length and standing 1.37 metres at the shoulder. In appearance it resembled the front end of a zebra and the rear end of a horse! It lived only in South Africa on the open plains - but now it has gone forever.

The modern horse has served humans well over the centuries, so perhaps the time has now come for humans to do something in return by helping to preserve and protect the species that still survive in the world.

There are also associations that have been established to care for horses that are at risk of mistreatment. World Horse Welfare is one example of a group that works to rescue and re-home domesticated horses at risk of harm or cruelty across the world.

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