A Przewalski's horse, an endangered species, was killed on a highway in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Saturday, the third such horse since August 15 that died after being released into nature.
The horse, born earlier this year, was hit to death by a bus at about 1 AM Saturday on No. 216 national highway running through the Karamay Nature Reserve in Altay of northern Xinjiang, said Han Zhidong, head of the Altay forest police bureau.
Police detained the driver at about 10 AM who confessed to the misdeed.
Two other Przewalski's horses were killed in mid August on the same highway. Police have posted a reward of 20,000 yuan for witnesses, but there was no reply yet.
Przewalski's horses have existed for 60 million years, and are the only surviving wild horse species in the world. They were first known to the outside world in 1879 when Russian explorer Nikolay Przewalski discovered them in Xinjiang.
A German party captured 52 of the horses in 1890 to transport them back to Hamburg, but only 28 survived the journey. The thousand or so Przewalski's horses in the world, including those in Xinjiang, are said to be the offspring of those survivors.
The horses disappeared in this westernmost region of China due to excessive poaching and environmental degradation over a period of 100 years before 1986.
To bring Przewalski's horses back to Junggar Basin, their natural habitat, the Chinese government has included them in a protection scheme for eight endangered animal species.
The number of Przewalski's horses in the world is only about 1,300. China has released nearly 50 into nature since 2001.
(Xinhua News Agency September 2, 2007)