Australia to kill 10,000 wild horses in nature reserve

Four horses, one grey, one white, one brown and one black running, landscape in background
Wild horses, photo: Mari Art via Canva

Australia will kill more than 10,000 wild horses in the Kosciuszko nature reserve in the coming years. Experts consider the wild horses in the area a pest.

There are at least 400,000 wild horses in the country, the largest population in the world. In the Kosciuszko nature reserve, there are around 14,000 wild horses.

Experts say the horses spread weeds, cause erosion, and compete with native animals for habitat and food. The government decided to reduce the number to only 3000 in the nature reserve.

But Professor James Pittock of the Australian National University in Canberra and other experts want to see all the horses dead.

“Horses have no place in this landscape. They are heavy beasts weighing an average of 400 kilos. They trample the native plants and destroy the habitats of critically endangered native animals,” Pittock said.

Pittock means animals like the yellow-black-striped corroboree frog, the mastacomys, a small possum and the Alpine she-oak skink, a lizard species.

Animal welfare organizations want more humane solutions, such as catching and sterilizing the horses or taming them.

“I think they’re concerned about frogs, but they can put a fence around the swamp, right?” says Victoria Patchell, who came to Kosciuszko especially to see the horses. “They are such beautiful, peaceful animals. We should leave them alone.”

But Pittock said that’s not a solution: “The horses multiply by 20 percent every year. It’s just too many. Every year that we don’t do anything, they do more damage.”

He also argues that shooting the horses is better for them: “In Australia there are regular long periods of drought, leaving nothing to eat. I have seen animals walking around emaciated, starving. Nobody likes to shoot horses, but unfortunately it is the only realistic solution.”

In 2020, the Living Planet Report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) measured the damage humans had done to animals. They concluded that humans were responsible for the decline of almost seventy procent of all animals since 1970.

The Animal Reader is a small independent news platform with daily posts about issues affecting animals.

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