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Sustainable development and Przewalski’s horses

Last summer, as I was wandering on a high plateau of the Cevennes, I discovered the story of Przewalski’s horses.

At the end of the 19th century, a colonel of the Russian imperial army observed herds of wild horses in Mongolia. These horses were small, with an ochre coat and a short mane and resembled those found in cave engravings. Could they be the offspring of prehistoric horses? The good European society wanted to see specimens of these curious animals, which were consequently captured by the hundred to be transported into zoos.

Captures were so violent, that a few decades later, there were no wild horses left in Mongolia. The few rare specimens left were in captivity in European zoos, facing difficulty reproducing.

Would that be the end of their story? Well, no.

A team of scientists specialized in animal behaviour led by the ethologist Claudia Feh tried an experiment: reintroducing these horses to the wildlife, in a 400 hectares area on the Causse Méjean – a high limestone plateau which feels like the “end of the world”.

The experiment started in 1990 and succeeded amazingly, leading to a new herd, thanks to numerous foal births.

It went so well that in 2005, a dozen horses, born in the Cevennes, were transported to Mongolia to be reintroduced. And this second reintroduction succeeded just as well.

Today, herds of wild horses are back in Mongolia, and on the Causse Méjean. They are named after the explorer Przewalski who was the first to document their existence in the 19th century.

What is the link between this story, which took place over more than a hundred years, and sustainable development?

We, human beings, are capable of the worst, as well as the best. This applies to biodiversity and, hopefully, to climate. There is no certain catastrophe, but we must move quickly, because our current initiatives will only bear fruit in 10, 20 or 30 years.

There are initiatives, such as that of the UN which, since 2015 with its Sustainable Development Goals (“SDG”), offers trajectories integrating social, economic, and ecological aspects into our lives, and into our society. They are also often referred to as ESG, an acronym that stands for Environment, Social and Governance.

Some of the UN goals deal with biodiversity and the preservation of ecosystems.

Other goals, such as the one on climate change, call for “improving education, awareness and individual and institutional capacity […].”

This holistic vision, including the social, economic, and ecological dimensions, is woven into all AquaFin programs. We have even developed a program to help businesses transition to a more sustainable model.

Are you interested? Write to us!

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