BRUSSELS, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- The 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15), to be hosted in October by Kunming in China, is much anticipated, because "international cooperation is essential in the field of biodiversity conservation," Belgian expert Coralie Huberty said in a recent interview with Xinhua.
The main objective of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity is to halt the decline in plant and animal species. "We are now facing a crisis in the ecological system and the coronavirus pandemic is a case in point. Environmental protection is essential to our survival and international cooperation is essential to achieving this," she stressed.
Huberty is the lead physiotherapist at the Domaine des Grottes de Han, a Belgian wildlife research and animal park, which is home to nearly 650 animals, including 11 Przewalski's horses.
The Przewalski's horse is a rare and endangered subspecies of wild horse, which, thanks to international cooperation, is now gradually being reintroduced into its natural environment.
"The first Przewalski's horses came to us in 1997," she said. "They were two stallions. We had to gain experience with this particular species before receiving our first mare, which subsequently gave birth to many foals."
As part of a program led by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), Przewalski's horses are bred to the age of two or three in zoos in different countries. Then, depending on the needs of the program, they may be candidates for reintroduction, or join other parks or zoos participating in the program, to become breeders.
Two Przewalski's horses, raised in the Domaine des Grottes de Han animal park, were reintroduced in 2017 to their natural environment in China and in the steppes of Mongolia.
According to Huberty, in 2017 two managers of the animal park visited northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region for the shooting of a TV documentary on horses. They visited the Xinjiang Wild Horse Breeding and Research Center in Jimsar County and the Kalamaili Nature Reserve. They were impressed by the actions taken to protect the horses, considered by China to be a national treasure.
The case of Przewalski's horses is a good example of a successful conservation campaign led by a concerted international effort to preserve biodiversity. Nevertheless, the decline in biodiversity remains a problem and around one million animal and plant species are still threatened with extinction.
"With the decline in biodiversity, environmental issues are really paramount at the level of authorities and governments. Scientific measures have been taken, and we are already seeing the positive effects, and therefore these types of cooperative efforts will have real implications for environmental protection," she said.