This entry has been submitted by Dr. Victor Moraga and Enrique Zunzunegui of Horse Path Ltd.
Species: Equus caballus
Subspecies/Breed/Type: Bagual / Creole of Patagonia
Region/Province/Range: Torres del Paine National Park
Population type: Feral
Estimated Population size: between 130-150 horses (2015 estimate)
Management Authority: Corporación Nacional Forestal (CONAF)
Details of Population:
The herd moves through difficult terrain as one tight group with little separation between family bands, making it difficult to have a complete population count. It is not easy to recognize and identify the horses as the horses sport very similar coat colours and markings. More observations are recommended.
Preliminary evidence suggests that the herd suffers predation from puma (Puma concolor), which apparently keeps the population growth rate in check.
Structure and demographics:
From the observations made it seems that the stallion to mare ratio could be about 1,5-1,6:1. In November 2010 Horse Path Ltd. counted a total of 27 new-born foals. In February 2011, only 4 foals remained indicating a high foal mortality rate. The factors causing this high foal mortality rate are still under investigation, but it seems likely that predation by puma (Puma concolor) is the most likely cause. Stallion harrasment of mares that have recently foaled is another candidate or factor likely to cause foal deaths.
Issues worth noting and needed actions
This herd is still considered as an invasive species that need to be removed from the National Park. However, Horse Path Ltd. have been given a 1 year concession to study the horses and therefore a 10 year moratorium for possible extermination has been achieved.
Visit the website of Horse Path Ltd. for more information. (In spanish)