Rare Horses Released In Spain As Part Of ‘Rewilding’ Effort

Retuerta horse of Spain

Retuerta horses, whose DNA are close to an ancient European breed, are being introduced to the wilds of western Spain. Rewilding is a growing movement across Europe. The re-introduction of a species, native to an area, driven out or kill by humans, will only strengthen its ecosystem. Large herbivores help clear over grown brush, thus reducing wild fire risks. ~ HfH

From: NPR
by Lauren Frayer

Two-dozen Retuerta horses, the second of two batches, are released into the Campanarios de Azaba Biological Reserve in western Spain.

Two-dozen Retuerta horses, the second of two batches, are released into the Campanarios de Azaba Biological Reserve in western Spain.

For the first time in two millennia, wild horses are once again galloping free in western Spain, countering what happened when the Romans moved there and domesticated the animals.

Four-dozen Retuerta horses have been released into the wild in western Spain over the past two years as part of a project by Rewilding Europe, a nonprofit group that seeks to turn the loss of rural farming life into an opportunity to boost biodiversity.

The endangered Retuerta is one of the oldest horse breeds in Europe and most closely resembles the race of ancient Iberian horses that populated this region before being domesticated. 

Retuertas are nearly extinct, with only about 150 remaining in Doñana National Park in southern Spain. Living in a single cluster there, the entire species could be wiped out by any potential disease or calamity.

So wildlife experts arranged to have two batches of two-dozen Retuertas each brought to the Campanarios de Azaba Biological Reserve, an unfenced area of western Spain that’s believed to have once been native territory for the horses.

“Our idea is to just let them manage the ecosystem themselves. 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.

“Of course it is endangered — close to extinction — and we’re conservationists,” he added. “So if one of them gets ill, we could call the veterinarian. That’s not the idea in the future — we’ll treat them like wild horses. But for now they could use a little care.”

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  • Daniel Cordero

    Awesome! Now I won’t have to go to the US to see real wild horses (and anyways at the current rate wild horses in the US won’t last much…)

    This is what we call the Dehesa…


    This is in Salamanca, not very far from here… too bad I had to give up my car.

    However what it is really surprising imho is that these kind of initiatives are being set into motion in a country that is ravaged by the financial crisis, yet in the US, where there are, in comparison, way much more economical resources and, in plain terms, wealth, the government is destroying these living treasures at a great expense, might I add.

    The key, as always, is that wild horse “management” in the US, as currently implemented by the BLM, is nothing but a money-racking rip-off for a selected few. Wild horses in gov pens at the expense of others and in slaughter trucks mean money in the pockets of somebody; wild horses running free where they should be don’t. So as we say here… las cosas claras y el chocolate, espeso…

    January 20, 2014
  • Nancy Albin

    Yes I am in Nevada & it sure didn’t stop them from taking all the “Wild Horses” from here the no american slaughter houses is great but not one of this states leaders was for it & I havnt seen a horse in days but i have seen & heard the helicopters nothing like having the rug ripped out from under you sally jewell blm agriculture forestry gov are pittiful so now i guess all our beauties from here have been on there way to canada or mexico!!!! come on obama please don’t stop there lets finish this off completely they don’t have the right to do this

    January 21, 2014