The Retuerta species is one of the oldest horse breeds still in existence. We previously reported on this rewilding effort in Spain. Over the last 2 years, this horse breed has been slowly being reintroduced to the Campanarios de Azaba Biological Reserve in western Spain. They are not fed any additional food but are monitored for their health. The benefits of fire prevention by the addition of herbivores on the land is one of the key elements we need to understand here in the United States. We treat wild horses like vermin, rather than an integral part of our natural environment. ~ HfH
Wild horses are again roaming free in western Iberia, near the border between Spain and Portugal – millenia after the Romans settled there and domesticated them. It’s part of one group’s larger vision to ‘rewild’ Europe.
The endangered species of Retuerta horse is being given a second chance of survival thanks to a special breeding project. One of the oldest horse breeds in Europe, the Retuerta closely resembles the race of ancient Iberian horse that populated the region around the Spain-Portugal border.
Only 150 Retuerta remain in the world – most of them are in a national park in southern Spain. Disease or disaster in this area could wipe out the entire species, experts warn.
Rewilding Europe, a non-governmental organization that seeks to protect biodiversity and replenish natural spaces in Europe, has arranged for 50 Retuerta to be introduced to the Campanarios de Azaba Biological Reserve in western Spain.
“It’s a wild horse – so it’s in its DNA to roam free in the wild,” said Diego Benito, a forestry engineer who lives and works at the reserve. “Our idea is to just let them manage the ecosystem themselves.”
Benito admits though that since it’s an endangered species, rangers will intervene to help the horses survive. “If one of them gets ill, we could call the veterinarian,” he said. “In the future, we’ll treat them like wild horses – but for now, they could use a little care,” he added.