The Mongolian Government declared Hustai National Park as a Specially Protected Area in 1993, one year after the initiation of the reintroduction of the last species of wild horse project. The Wild horse became extinct in the wild and was last seen in the Gobi in the late 1960s. It survived only in zoos and private parks around the world. The reintroduction program began in 1992. Horses were selected for maximum genetic diversity and gathered at semi-reserves in the Netherlands. Over a two year period, they formed socially normal herds, each consisting of a stallion and his harem of mares. Then they were flown to Mongolia from Luxembourg airport. These shipments (of 16 horses each time) continued every two years until 2002.
In addition to the takhi, there are populations of maral (Asiatic red deer), marmots, steppe gazelle, deer, boar, manul (small wild cat), wolves and lynx.
The takhi and marmots are easy to see on a game drive in early morning or late afternoon. The other mammal species need some patience and are more likely to be seen while hiking on foot around the reserve.
You can go hiking, horseback riding, or take a road trip through Hustai N.P. Seeing these truly wild horses which numbered in the hundreds of thousands of years ago as captured in archeological records, will make you feel like you have traveled thousands of year back in time.
The HNP is one of the best-managed Specially Protected Areas in Mongolia and was the first park to be managed by a Non-governmental Organization specializing in nature and environmental conservation. The park was managed by the Mongolian Association for the Conservation of Nature and the Environment during 1993-2003. A dedicated NGO, the Hustai National Park Trust (HNPT), was established in 2003 and signed a contract with the Mongolian Government which delegated the management of the HNP to the new NGO.
The HNPT conducts operations in five main activity areas as follows:
- Conservation and protection of ecosystems and historical sites in the park.
- Reintroduction of the last species of wild horse – the Takhi – and building-up of a sustainable wild population.
- Organization of international training courses and research.
- Development of ecotourism.
- Development of the buffer zone of the HNP.
The Trust has around 60 employees, working in five units as follows:
- Training and research
- Buffer zone development
Since 1993, the HNP has implemented the following international projects, supported by the Dutch Government:
- Hustain Nuruu nature reserves, 1993–1997
- Conservation of the biodiversity of the HNP, 1998–2003
- Support to the management of the HNP, 2004–2008
- Development of sustainable livelihoods in the buffer zone of the HNP, 2004–2008
- Adaptation to changing conditions in the HNP and its buffer zone, 2009–2012