In 1936, professor Tadeusz Vetulani of Poznań University began attempts to breed the extinct tarpan back to its original state. To achieve this he used horses from Biłgoraj area descended from wild tarpans wild captured in 1780 in Białowieża Forest and keept until 1808 in Zamoyski zoo. Later given to local peasants and crossbred with domestic horses. The Polish government commandeered all the koniks, which displayed tarpan-like features. The result of this selective breeding programme is that semi-wild herds of koniks can be seen today in many nature reserves and parks also seen in last refugium at Białowieża Forest.
Along with deer, the wisent and the Heck Cattle, the konik are big grazers. They keep the landscape open, and when kept without supplemental winter feeding, they alter the landscape to produce more parklike forest.
In Maastricht, the Netherlands, a herd was released in 1995, in 'de Kleine Weerd', a 12 hectare strip of land (roughly 100 m by 1 km) along the river Meuse. The area is open to the public, but people are advised not to go near the horses because their reaction is unpredictable. Koniks have also been introduced in Latvia and the United Kingdom because of the success of such programs. Koniks have been introduced into Wicken Fen near Cambridge by the National Trust. Koniks have also been introduced to a number of Nature Reserves in Kent, England by Wildwood Trust (the charity which runs the Wildwood Discovery Park) and Kent Wildlife Trust. These include Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve, Ham Fen National Nature Reserve, Whitehall Meadow, Sandwich Bay and Park Gate Down.
Short height, strong and stocky build, light head with a straight profile, growing low out of the chest. Has a deep chest, a thick mane, the hide is mouse-grey.