From the time our ancestors first painted on cave walls, the beauty and speed of horses have captured our imagination. During this period, some 20,000 to 25,000 years ago, equids were among the most abundant and ecologically important herbivores on the grasslands of Africa, Asia and the Americas. Today only seven species of wild equids remain--three asses, three zebra and one wild horse--and IUCN-The World Conservation Union now lists most of these as endangered.

Wildlife biologists, including the Equid Specialist Group of the IUCN, which I chair, study the dwindling populations to learn as much as possible about these historically important animals while they still roam free. We also search for ways to stem their disappearance and have recently developed a plan that prioritizes the actions that should be taken.