Wild Horses Trample Romania’s Danube Delta
Should the Danube Delta wild horses roam freely or should they be corralled? [image via flickr]
A flurry of aquatic limbs converge and then split in a series of twists and turns before finally becoming the Black Sea. This sprawling network of wetlands comprises 23 different ecosystems, and provides habitat for a dizzying variety of migratory birds, and reeds, and foxes in addition to numerous other fauna and flora.
The Danube Delta is also home to a herd of wild horses. Originally set free by their owners when communism collapsed and farmers could no longer afford to feed them, the horses flourished in the spongy marshes. But now, by some accounts, they are destroying the Unesco World Heritage site in which they roam.
The horses have to go
According to a Guardian news report, local residents have split opinions about the horses.
“If the horses settle somewhere the next day the place looks like a football pitch after two successive matches in the rain,” says Vioral Rosca, the head of Macin natural park. “They are so destructive. There are flower species that are disappearing after taking ages to take hold. Soon this unique forest will be no more than a memory. To protect the delta they really have to go.”
The head of the Danube Delta National Institute (DDNI), Romulus Stiuca, suggests that while the horses should be restricted to certain areas in order to prevent the kind of habitat destruction described, there simply aren’t enough funds to lift such a project off the ground. But another resident doesn’t bother to conceal his disdain.
To devil with the horses
Although fisherman Vladimir Nistor claims that every person needs a boat or a horse in order to be a “real man,” he believes that “the wild horses can go to the devil! I reckon they should all be slaughtered,” he said. “They’re destroying our forests.”
If the horses are slaughtered, it wouldn’t be the first time in this region. Before they were discovered to carry an infectious anaemia in 2008, farmers used to arrange collective hunts and sell the horse meat to Italian companies. Since then, they have been free to roam, and are impossibly difficult to catch. This too adds to the difficulty of controlling them.
Fighting for Freedom
One man in the region, a veterinarian named Stefan Raileanu, is enamored with the 4,000 wild horses; he wades through and then hunkers in deep water just to catch a quiet glimpse of the skittish creatures that meander in herds of hundreds.
“They refuse to be captured,” he said, “and would rather die than give up their freedom.”
:: The Guardian
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