Rare horses, rare opportunity
One Lloydminster woman hopes her efforts to save an endangered species on the Mongolian Steps will give her the skills to help endangered species when she returns to North America.
Wednesday August 06, 2008
“Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to research overseas and help endangered animals,” said Brandi Petrukovich, an animal sciences major. “It’s always been a passion of mine, working with animals, especially saving endangered species.”
Petrukovich left Canada on Thursday to begin working on her thesis in Mongolia with the University of Saskatchewan and the International Rural Development Agency. Her research will focus on sustainable grazing of the Przewalski horses. She will be working under Mongolian researchers there and said she hopes to learn a lot.
“A lot of it is looking at their nutrition and what they eat and what they require. That can apply to whatever kind of animal you are working on. I think doing this research over there will open doors to helping species over here,” she said.
What makes the species different is they are truly wild; other “wild” horses are really feral meaning they have been domesticated at some point.
There are only about 250 of the Przewalski Horses left, many of them in Hustia National Park where Petrukovich is headed. The species has already been declared extinct in the wild and for years only remained in zoos around the world. The horse is smaller than domesticated horses, about 13-hands tall, and is usually a dun color with a spiky mane.
“We will be doing analysis on the plants they are eating and their behavioural habits,” she said.
Although she will be in a nature reserve, it won’t be any walk in the park. Petrukovich will be living and working out of a gurr, similar to a canvas tent, for over a month. The reserve is isolated, far away from any major center.
“The big one there is rabies,” she said. “If you are bitten by anything you’re going to have to be evacuated to Beijing to get treatment.”
She is also not sure what kind of food she will be eating or what kind of power and water facilities will be there.
“Fermented mares’ milk is their delicacy in the summertime, so I will try that,” she said. “Also, a lot of mutton, I’ve heard.”