Namib wild horses galloping to extinction – hyenas kill again
The wild horses of the Namib are on the brink of extinction with three of the four foals born since September this year killed in only the last few weeks.
“Long-awaited rainfall this year brought new hope and allowed the Namibia Wild Horses Foundation to stop feeding the horses after a long 27 months of severe drought in which the public generously donated both feed and funds to keep the horses alive. The desert transformed with new green grass, the condition of the remaining horses improved and some of the mares conceived. To add to the newly-felt positiviness, the pack of hyenas moved off onto adjacent farmland leaving the horses in peace. The first foals were born and it began to look as if the horses finally stood a chance,” stated the Namibia Wild Horses Foundation in a statement that criticizes the Ministry of Environment and Tourism for its inaction and delay.
Foundation chairman, Mannfred Goldbeck, said “The Foundation is waiting anxiously for the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to respond to our request for custodianship of the horses. We need to implement measures urgently to safeguard their future. We have been trying for several years to engage the ministry without success. The situation is now an emergency. We urge the ministry to commit to a plan of action so that we can save the remaining population.”
Today, only 80 of the original 300 horses or so are still alive. Of these only 33 are mares of which only four conceived this year, and of which only one foal has escaped the hyenas’ fangs so far.
According to biologist, Dr Telané Greyling, who has studied the wild horses for more than 20 years and who works closely with the Namibia Wild Horses Foundation, not a single foal has survived since 2012, making the youngest horse six-years old. “In 2013 alone, the hyenas killed about a hundred horses, fifty of them foals,” she said.
The foundation stated that it desperately wants to help the horses, but its hands are tied unless the ministry grants them custodianship.
“The wild horses of the Namib are among the top ten tourist attractions in Namibia. They embody the wild and free spirit of the country, have been the subject of numerous documentary films and are used to promote Namibia as a popular tourist destination. They are an important part of Namibia’s history and heritage. The loss of this population will do untold damage to the brand Namibia.”