Timor Pony DNA

Timor Pony Preservation Group. Image: A Timor Pony in Taronga Park Zoo, Sydney NSW, 1961. National Library of Australia.

We have been liaising with Brandon Velie at Sydney University and our Timor Pony DNA profile research project is now underway. Our first in-person presentation from Brandon was held in Victoria in July 2023 and we expect to gather again in winter 2024. Brandon is the genealogist who is analyzing the Snowy River Brumbies (KNP), so our project sits nicely within this.

The first part of our project will analyze the DNA from our domestic pure Timor Ponies and compare them to the Timor Ponies in Timor Leste, the Portugese Garrano, Mongolian Ponies, Walers and Snowy River Brumbies and determine the relationship between them. Brandon usually looks at around 200 to 300 genetic markers, which is many more than the 20 to 30 that Texas University uses in their breed ancestry testing. He will also look at colour markers as they can also determine ancestry.

The results of the initial research can be found here.

He will look at which breed is ‘older’. He is likely to compare them to Icelandic Ponies depending on the findings (as no other breed has been introduced to Icelandics for hundreds of years).

The second part of the project will (hopefully) analyze DNA from the ‘wild’ Timor Ponies on the Cobourg Peninsula and develop a breed ancestry testing panel for Timor Ponies. It is at this stage we hope to obtain some wild horses for our domestic breeding program (permission from traditional landowners permitting.)

The whole project is expected to take around three years and cost approximately $50 -70,000 AUD.

We are expecting the breed to be ancient and worth noting due to their isolation, the aim is to keep them this way, and to determine their input into Australian breeds.

We need to raise funds for this, coming will be a post on how to donate! If you would like to make contact with us about this project and/or fundraising we would welcome that.

Some key background facts:

1. Timor Ponies in Timor Leste do still exist, but their numbers are dwindling as motorisation takes over their workload.

2. Those Ponies at Timor Leste cannot be imported to anywhere else in the world as Timor Leste is not an approved country for livestock transfers (or semen or embryos).

3. Timor ponies still existed on the Cobourg Peninsula in remote NT in their pure form in 2010……but have not been audited since. We believe that no other breeds have been introduced, but would need to obtain DNA of the remaining wild horses there to confirm.

4. Most other Brumbies in Mainland Australia have had too many other (and modern) breeds introduced and hence diluted the Timor blood too much to even consider them to be Timor ponies.

5. Therefore we are down to just a handful of domestic Timor Ponies IN THE WORLD, with many of them too old to breed.

Stay in touch with us via our Facebook page.

You can see more about the research work being conducted by Brandon and his team on the Sydney University website.

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