Volga-Dnepr Group is continuing to support the programme to reintroduce endangered Przewalski horses in the Ural steppe of Russia by ensuring a safe delivery of the latest 14 horses from the Hortobágy National Park in Hungary.
The horses each travelled in their own special horse stall onboard a Boeing 737-400SF freighter operated by Atran Airlines, the Group’s regional and express cargo airline, in cooperation with Volga-Dnepr Airlines and AirBridgeCargo Airlines. The temperature in the cargo cabin was maintained at a comfortable 18-20°C for the four-hour night-time flight from Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport to the city of Orenburg on the steppe beyond the Ural Mountains. Experts from the national park were on hand to ensure the wellbeing of the horses during the loading process and on arrival in Russia.
Atran Airlines carried the horses on behalf of charter company, Fly Concord, for its customer, the Joint Directorate State Nature Reserves “Orenburg” and “Shaitan-Tau”. Now safely at their new home, the 14 horses will spend several months in quarantine as they become acclimatised to their new surroundings before they join the group of Przewalski horses that arrived in the region from France just over a year ago.
In 2015, Volga-Dnepr Group carried a herd of six horses to Orenburg from Montpellier in France. They were joined on that 737F flight by representatives of the Association for the Przewalski Horse. These horses have now completed their acclimatization and were successfully released into the steppe last October.
Przewalski horses are one of the rarest and most endangered subspecies of wild horse on the planet and had become extinct in their original habitat, the Central Asian and Mongolian steppe. With the support of the Hortobágy National Park, which currently has a herd of 380 Przewalski horses on a protected area of 2,400 hectares, they are slowly being reintroduced into the Orenburg nature reserve.
Named after the Russian explorer and geographer Nikolay Przhevalsky (1831-1888), the Przewalski horse is included in the Red Book of the Russian Federation, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora.
Alexey Grebinyak, lead load planning specialist at AirBridgeCargo Airlines, said, “This is our second flight on behalf of this programme so we have a lot of experience in terms of the conditions required onboard the aircraft and how to prepare the stables for the flight as well as the horses’ behaviour during the flight. It is a great honour for us to be able to use our expertise in transporting live animals to support this important and historic programme to reintroduce Przewalski horses in the Ural steppes. The horses we delivered last year have now been released into the nature reserve and the same will be true of the latest 14 horses once their complete their quarantine period. We hope to be part of more flights in the future to help protect the future of the Przewalski horse for future generations.”
Svetlana Berezina, general director of Fly Concord, thanked Volga-Dnepr Group for the reliable and safe delivery of the ‘priceless cargo’, and the professionalism and care shown by the Group’s personnel.
Rafilya Bakirova, director of the Orenburg Reserve, added, “Volga-Dnepr Group has made a significant contribution to the implementation of a project to return Przewalski horses to the Orenburg steppe. It is a project of federal and international importance. Volga-Dnepr’s specialists have helped us solve one of the key issues for our programme – how to deliver such a valuable cargo safely to Russia.”