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2016-11-22 13:52:27

Air Cargo: Wild Horses Flown From the Hortobágy to the Russian Steppe

No less than 14 wild horses (called Przewalski’s horse) kept in the Hortobágy National Park were flown from Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport to the city of Orenburg on the steppe beyond the Ural Mountains. This endangered sub-species of wild horses became extinct in their original habitat, the Central Asian and Mongolian steppe, but some of these rare animals are now relocated from the Hortobágy stock to a nature reserve near Orenburg.

The 14 wild horses took a night flight; they travelled on board a Boeing 737-400 SF of Atran Airlines (Air Bridge Cargo) of the Volga-Dnepr Group from Budapest to Orenburg. The staff of the Hortobágy National Park first separated the horses and used tranquilizer guns to prevent any injuries that may have been caused by the agitation of being loaded onto trucks. Each animal was put into separate transport cages which were hauled by Horse Trans Cargo to Budapest where Celebi Ground Handling staff loaded them onto the Russian Boeing 737 at the airport. By now, the wild horses born in Hungary already arrived at the Orenburg Natural Reserve for several months of acclimatization and quarantine before they can join the group of wild horses in the area imported from France earlier.
Photo: Samu Ádám, Airportal

The Przewalski’s horse had been native to the endless steppes of Mongolia, Central Asia, and Russia, and was named after Russian explorer and geographer Nikolay Przhevalsky (1831-1888). Formerly it was presumed to have been the ancestor of domesticated horses, but more recent DNA research has shown that it is a separate species which evolved from the same ancestor as the domesticated horse. The special value of this horse for Hungarians is that their ancient nomadic tribes used similarly tough, small, but extremely reliably horses. Currently there are 380 Przewalski’s horses on a protected area of 2400 hectares of the Hortobágy National Park.

“This special livestock cargo has not been the first to be handled at Budapest Airport, and ground handling staff did their best, as usual, to ensure a most comfortable flight for these valuable wild animaals ,” said József Kossuth, cargo manager of Budapest Airport. He added, “We have had many different four-legged passengers before, including extremely valuable race horses, young Hungarian breeder bulls, and a special zoo ‘delegation’ consisting of 13 lions. We are proud of the airport’s contribution to the success of the Russian reintroduction program of the Przewalsi’s horse.”