general info about Theriologia Ukrainica

Theriologia Ukrainica
(former Proceedings of the Theriological School)

ISSN 2616-7379 (print) ISSN 2617-1120 (online)

2019 Vol. 18 Contents of volume >>>

download pdfGashchak, S., S. Paskevich. 2019. Przewalski`s horse (Equus ferus przewalskii) in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone after 20 years of introduction. Theriologia Ukrainica, 18: 80100.



Przewalski`s horse (Equus ferus przewalskii) in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone after 20 years of introduction


Sergii Gashchak, Sergii Paskevych


Chornobyl Center for Nuclear Safety, Radioactive Waste and Radioecology (Slavutych, Ukraine), Institute for Safety Problems of Nuclear Power Plants of Ukraine's NAS of Ukraine (Chornobyl, Ukraine)


Theriologia Ukrainica. 2019. Vol. 18: 80100.




English, with Ukrainian summary, titles of tables, captures to figs


Camera traps (CT) were used in 2018 to assess the current state of the Przewalskis horse (PH) population. Przewalskis horses were introduced into the Ukrainian Chornobyl exclusion zone (CEZ) in 1998. Up to 720 km2 (of the 2600 km2 total CEZ area) were investigated between February and November 2018, however the assessment reported here was made between MayJuly when PH are more settled with regards to the territory used. Totally 137 PH were recorded in the Ukrainian part of the CEZ: 47 stallions, 66 mares (adult & fillies) and 24 foals (10 males, 4 females and 10 of unidentified gender). At least four more PH (stallion, 2 mares, 1 foal) are noted at a remote site in the Belarus CEZ (V. Dombrovsky, or. rep.). All foals were born April-July 2018. There were 13 harem herds with foals (316 individuals in total in each), four small non-breeding groups (2-3 individuals), ca. 6 stallion groups (26 individuals), and at least one solitary stallion. Harem and non-breeding herds generally kept to ca. 18 sites, stallion groups normally roamed. Two-three groups lived on territories which including both Ukrainian and Belorussian parts of the CEZ. During 20072010 PH crossed the river Prypiat and finally founded a local reproducing sub-population. Almost all PH are from the 2nd and higher generations, only two mares had a brand mark which identified the original introduced population. One herd (Ilintsy) includes a domesticate breed mare (in autumn she moved to a neighbouring group, in Stechanka, where in 2019 gave birth to a hybrid foal sired by the Ilintsy stallion). At least, two males (solitary stallion and colt) had signs of hybridization (i.e. PH and domesticated horse). Underestimation of the total PH population in our study is likely as not all appropriate sites were investigated. The total herd, as identified here, of PH grew seven-fold between 1998 and 2018. However, the rate of population increase between 20092018 was in 1.5 times less than that 19982008 previously reported. This reduced population growth rate was likely due to the changing age structure of the herd, the initial herd contained only older (more productive) mature mares, over time numbers of younger (less productive) mares increased. The present demographic indices and reproductive potential do not indicate any negative tendencies in the population development, and evidence the further fitness to the local conditions. PH are native to open steppe landscapes and our study confirms their preference to meadows in the CEZ. However, we observed that PH do not avoid forests. Reforestation of meadows and predominance of woodlands in the CEZ are obstacles for comprehensive monitoring of PH, and may contribute to an underestimation of the population size as direct visual observations do not work well in the woodlands. CT studies offer a solution to this problem.


Przewalskis horse, Chornobyl exclusion zone, adventive species, camera trap, population structure, spatial distribution, long-term dynamic.



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