A struggle for the survival of offspring

15 min read · Aug 09, 2022


●  Valuable historical, artistic and cultural heritage of mankind on the wall of Lascaux cave, France. In terms of chronology, it dates back to 17-30 thousand years BC, and it is remarkable that it has come down to our era with very little erosion. This is because the cave has a very elongated structure, no light reflection, and the temperature is stable, which is why the drawings aren’t not affected or outdated.There are over 6000 well-recognizable wall paintings of people, animals and symbols. Among these there are about 900 pictures of horses, cows, deer, bulls, bison, rhinos, lions, leopards and bears. The picture above shows a horse with a pale abdomen, light color, black stripes along the back, black legs, a long tail, and a black mane were expressed so clearly that it feels as though they have directly copied the image of takhi.

One of Hollywood's best works “Lucy” has remarkably demonstrated the origins and evolutions of life in a very simple and understandable manner. If a “Cell” is eternal then it is selfish. Because it doesn’t have to worry about anything. But how can it survive, if it isn’t immortal? Since it isn’t eternal, by spending enormous amounts of energy, it found a way to survive by dividing and copying itself. From this, it can be clearly seen that the ultimate goal of all living beings is to preserve themselves through their offspring. Therefore, throughout the history of life, the process that exhausts the body and the soul the most and expends the most energy is the process of leaving it for posterity.

Although, it is true that poor flowers bloom beautifully to the naked eye, still as a flower, they try to spread their seed successfully. They expend all their energy to look beautiful until they are attractive to insects. Eventually, it blooms astonishingly and gives its seed and overblows.

Each species has various ways of ensuring their cells survive for posterity, such as:

Single male with multiple females – Harem;

Single female with multiple males– Polyandry;

Strong males occupy certain areas and attract females– Territorial;

Lifetime breeding pair– Monogamy;

Short term or breeding season pair– Seasonal Monogamy;

Female mating choice. There are such mating systems for producing their offspring.

Przewalski horse is a classic example of the HAREM-type mating system that sustains one or more females for a long time. If an adult stallion fights for a breeding harem and wins, the mare will be inseminated by the winning stallion.

When their offspring reach the age of 2-3, the father stallion forcibly expels them from the family, regardless of whether they are male or female. There is no such incident where other stallions leave a young mare alone. Therefore, it is easy to pick up another stallion within a breeding harem, or an adult male who has not yet formed a breeding harem. None of the stallions would like to collect young males and enable a challenge to itself to take over the harem. So, the young bachelors, who have been chased away by their father, join with the youth of their generation to form a bachelor group.

Young colts, since there is no physiological need to push to reproduce, play calmly and capriciously until adulthood. As soon as they reach the age of 5-6 and sexual maturity, they will develop the urge to mate and breed.

From this period on, they will develop an idea of fighting for breeding mares. And obviously, there are no stallions who will give away their mare without a struggle, even the mare is old, ugly or difficult and moody. The stallions never voluntarily give away their mares. Since the attitude of one stallion giving and the other stallion accepting is never inherited, the only way to take harems is to fight using mental and physical strength.

●  Two old stallions, one of which had his ears cut off and the other injured his forehead in a fight for a breeding mare. Despite their pathetic appearance, once they already had a breeding harem when they were young and produced enough offspring. Around 400 Przewalski’s horse are divided into approximately 40 breeding harems. Apart from those breeding harems, there are more than 70 bachelors and stallions fighting, and many stallions have fought all their lives and died without having any offspring. Compared to those poor ones, these two have done what they should have and bred and raised their colts.

Once completely extinct in the wild, the Przewalski horse is being reintroduced in eight places in four countries.

Between 1992 and 2000, 24 stallions and 60 mares were brought to the Hustai National Park in five shipments, bringing its total population up to about 400. More than 1,000 foals have been born during this time. Of the 528 male foals born in Hustai, only 159 (30%) have reached breeding age, of which only 70 (13.3%) stallions were able to collect mares and create offspring. These figures definitely show how harsh and hard is the battle for breeding.

Over the past 100 years of research at Zoos and Natural Reserves around the world, many things have become clear, including the "conservative behaviour" of the Przewalski’s horse. This is the infinite feeling of envy of a stallion who, when he reaches the age of maturity, first picks up any mare and owns it as its mare. Because of this behaviour, even if an old stallion loses his mare to a young stallion, they will not just let her go, they fight over many times to get the mare back. Both stallions, the new stallion who won the battle and the old stallion who lost the battle often fought for middle-aged mares as their own. Due to these frequent fights, stallions are injured and mares die due to birth complications, and a newborn foal is sometimes killed by a new stallion.

These fights can be very fierce and deadly, so some stallions use tricks. A group of young stallions may avoid a direct fight but regularly attack the herd as a group. If a stallion comes to fight, the herd may run away. The young stallions may cause constant chaos in a harem without giving battle. In the end they may exhaust the head of the harem and without any fight, and so the challenger may steal the harem.

●  The scene after two stallions of equal strength and age fought all day until they were as checkered as a chessboard. The victorious stallion is reluctant to lead its herd, and the herd moves ahead with some hesitance. Further, in the background, a stallion who has just lost his herd is waiting for an opportunity to fight again, grazing with his herd and regaining strength.

In general, an anxious, wise old stallion will try not to come across a stallion without a harem. If somehow they face or come across one on their way, the old stallion will take measures or keep quiet to avoid making the young stallion angry. However, the young and strong stallions who just won their harem, would fearlessly fight with all their might. If both of the opponent stallions are of the same strength and power, oftentimes battles may last for a long time. There are sometimes incidents when stallions with equal strength continue fighting but whilst they are struggling a lucky old stallion may sneak in and steal the harem behind the scenes.

An old stallion normally knows its limits. It is more than clear that if they return, they may end up losing the harem, hence they will refrain from coming back to their usual pasture and will attempt to gradually stabilize the herd. With so many fights and tricks, having a breeding harem and being able to leave its offspring is the result of a natural selection of only the strongest and most intelligent stallions continuing their bloodline.

●  An extended battle of two equal stallions. A lagging behind mare with a young foal meets a herd while trying to catch up with its own herd, and two stallions which have no interest to fight are now on the verge of a deadly fight. Occasionally there are some mares that don’t stay with a herd and so cause fights between stallions. They sometimes can be a reason for a herd to break up.

Usukhbayar. D,

Wildlife and Wild Horse Biologist,Research and Training Manager ofHustai National Park