Pottoka Piornal ponies WE

This entry was contributed to Wild Equus by Lucy Rees, member and researcher of the Wild Equus Network (WEN). You can visit the Pottokas en Piornal website, where you will find more details about her work with the feral pottoka ponies.


Species: Equus caballus

Subspecies/Breed/Type: Pottoka (Basque Pony)

Country: Spain

Region/Province/Range: Sierra de Tormantos, Piornal (Extremadura-Caceres)

Population type: Feral

Management Authority:  Pottokas en Piornal

Estimated Population size: about 40 horses (2015)

Census August 2015

Foals 2015 m 5 (+ 1 that died) f 3

Yearlings    m 4 (b, 3n) f. 3  (d, 2n)

2 y-olds      m 1 (b)  f  4

3 & above   m 5 (b, 4s) f  15

Total 40, m 15, f 25
b= bachelor, s=stallion, n= still with natal band, d=dispersed  – 9/15 mares foaled. = 60%.

Of the 6 that did not foal, 4 were 3 y-o that foaled last year at 2, 1 is 3 y-o,  1 unknown (mare not seen for 3 months)


Details of Population

1200ha. of mountain between 700m and 1500m. , with two deep gorges. Lower-lying areas are oak wood (about 400ha) with scattered chestnut plantations, the latter mainly unavailable to the ponies. The rest is mainly high, dense heather, Spanish broom, bracken and rock, with occasional areas of grass.

Average winter temperature 2.8º; snow may cover areas over 1000m for up to a month. Average summer temperature 20.8º . Water is abundant except in dry summers when all but two springs may dry up. The ponies practice seasonal vertical migration.

The area may also be grazed by up to 600 goats. Occasional red deer, groups of fallow deer, wild boar, fox, martin, jineta, rabbits (few), walkers and cyclists share the area. No large predators.

The population was set up as an open-access study facility for equine researchers and students with non-invasive projects. All ponies can be identified individually and their life history is known. Pottokas are Basque ponies whose DNA variation corresponds to a wild, not domesticated breed. Ours have no management except culling to limit numbers.

Their social organization corresponds to other older feral populations: natal bands, home ranges (around 300ha.), natal dispersal, bachelor bands often joined by dispersing fillies. Three have tamed themselves but the rest cannot be touched although they admit close observation.

Population growth has been limited by culling. In 2014 one entire band (young stallion, old mare, her daughter and grand-daughter) were removed. In 2015 11 ponies (3 y-o stallion, 7 y-o mare, her yearling son, and 7 fillies of 1 and 2 years old were removed). The individuals were chosen to minimize social disruption, being mostly fillies in natal dispersal. To reduce possible conflicts each band was rounded up separately and the youngsters removed.

Despite apparent lack of good forage the ponies are in extremely good condition although lactating mares lose weight at the end of the summer. The ponies show an astonishing ability to self-heal even severe wounds. Parasite burden is negligible.

Structure and demographics

4 single-stallion natal bands, one bachelor band.
The population was set up in 2007/8 in Catalonia with two bands each of one stallion and three mares. On moving the population to its present location in 2011, a 3 year-old unrelated stallion was introduced.

Of the 11 foals conceived in Catalonia 9 were female. In Extremadura 20 colts and 19 fillies have been born.
Mortality:
12 y-o mare, piroplasmosis (Catalonia, 2007)
colt 6 months killed by hippies (c, 2008)
14 y-o stallion, infection from broken tooth (Extremadura, 2014)
12 y-o mare, herbicide poisoning (Extremadura, 2013)
yearling colt, eating plastic bag (E, 2014)
foal 3 weeks (E. 2015)
2 disappeared colts.

About half the fillies become pregnant as yearlings, giving a very fast-growing, female-skewed  population (see culling, below). Fillies that foal at 2 do not foal at 3. Colts begin (inefficiently) to form natal bands at 3 years old.

Issues worth noting and needed actions

a) Legal imperative to microchip, which causes stress and social disruption and is extremely difficult in practice. The European regulations allow exemption in wild or feral ponies but the Extremadura authorities do no recognize this.
b) Damage to fences and walls caused by herds of goats, whose owner refuses to use the gates, cause escapes, social disruption and conflicts with the police.

Bibliography and further reading

Genetic analysis in the basque pony-pottoka breed. Preliminary results

Genetic variability in two spanish horse populations: Preliminary results

Pottoka’s behaviour and training

El caballo al final de la última glaciación en el período postglacial

Pryor Mountain wild horses WE

This entry was contributed to Wild Equus by Dr. Jason Ransom of Colorado State University, member and specialist of the Wild Equus Network (WEN).


Species: Equus caballus

Subspecies/Breed/Type: American mustang

Country: United States of America

Region/Province/Range: Pryor Mountains – Montana

Population type: Semi feral – heavily managed

Estimated Population size: about 150 horses

Management Authority:  Bureau of Land Management

Images by Dr. Jason Ransom. Please respect © copyright!

Management Practices: 

The US Bureau of Land Management has managed this population with periodic round-ups, adopting removed horses to the public. Horses from this population are highly adoptable because many of the animals exhibit genetic relatedness to more primitive Iberian horses and often have primitive markings such as a dorsal stripe, wither bars, and leg bars. Management began using the immunocontraceptive PZP in 2003, combined with periodic removals. Management today is done in partnership with the Pryor Mountain Mustang Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of these horses.

For more information and a blog, please see the Pryor Mountain Mustang Center website at http://www.pryormustangs.org/

Details of Population

The Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range, located in Bighorn County, Wyoming and Carbon County, Montana, USA (latitude 45°04‘N, longitude 108°19‘W), consists of roughly 16,000 ha of low desert, foothill slopes, forested montane slopes, steep canyons, and isolated grassy plateaus. Elevations ranged from 1,175 m to 2,670 m. Vegetation types varied greatly from lower to higher elevations of the range with lower elevations dominated by sagebrush communities, mid elevations dominated by curl-leaf mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius) and Utah juniper communities, and high elevations dominated by limber pine (Pinus flexilis), subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa), and alpine bluegrass (Poa alpina). Mean annual precipitation is 161.4 mm (range = 96.7–233.4 mm) and mean annual temperature is 7.1°C (range -33.9– 40.0°C). Pumas (Puma concolor) prey on foals somewhat regularly, but rate of depredation varies over time as selected for by individual pumas. Most horses here tend to migrate to higher elevations in the summer as snow melts off of subalpine meadows and then they retreat into the mid-elevations and lower desert in winter. This area was protected for horses prior to the 1971 U.S. law that designated horse ranges thanks to grassroots public interest. That interest remains today and citizens continue to monitor horses and collaborate with researchers and managers toward the stewardship of this herd.

Structure and demographics

A detailed account of demographics from 1996-2003 can be found at: Demography of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses

This report shows that pooled across years, productivity was 0.501 foals/mare (range = 0.254–0.705) for mares ≥2 years of age, 0.576 foals/mare (range = 0.300–0.795) for mares ≥3 years of age, and 0.597 foals/mare (range = 0.311–0.795) for mares ≥4 years of age. Pooled across years, ages, and sexes (n = 2,531), the annual survival rate of horses on the study area was 0.899.

Population size has ranged over the years from 200 horses, but averages closer to 150. The horses arrange themselves into 29 to 38 bands of 2–11 horses each. Bachelors form loosely associated ephemeral bands or range independently.

Issues worth noting and needed actions

Like most populations in the USA, available habitat for horses is finite and management is necessary to protect all natural resources while attempting to balance the multiple-use mandate for the federal lands where horses live.  The science needed for more-informed management is improving, but many obstacles persist. You can read much more in the 2013 National Research Council report “Using Science to Improve the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program: A Way Forward” Click link to view free PDF.

Bibliography and Further reading

On-going behavior and ecology research from Dr. Ransom can be followed on Twitter @wildequids

McCullough Peaks horses

This entry was contributed to Wild Equus by Dr. Jason Ransom of Colorado State University, member and specialist of the Wild Equus Network (WEN).


Species: Equus caballus

Subspecies/Breed/Type: American Mustang

Country: United States of America

Region/Province/Range: Park County – Wyoming

Population type: Semi feral-heavily managed

Estimated Population size: between 112-194 horses

Management Authority:  Bureau of Land Management -McCullough Peaks HMA

Images by Jason Ransom. Please respect © copyright!

Management Practices: 

The US Bureau of Land Management has managed this population with periodic round-ups, adopting removed horses to the public. Since 2004, management has more intensively been done using a time-released form of the immunocontraceptive PZP and periodic round-ups.

Details of Population

McCullough Peaks Herd Management Area is located Park County, Wyoming, USA (latitude 44°35‘N, longitude 108°40‘W), and consists of 44,400 ha of primarily open sagebrush steppe with badlands along the western edge. Vegetation consists of large expanses of small shrubs, grasses, and forbs. Pronghorn antelope and mule deer are sympatric with horses here and little natural depredation occurs. Elevations range from 1,200 m to 1,964 m. Mean annual temperature is 8.0°C (range -30.0– 37.8°C) and mean total annual precipitation is 271.2 mm (range=168.9–389.1 mm).

Structure and demographics

Population size reached a high of 495 horses before a large management removal in 2004, and now is maintained between 112 and 194 horses. Bands average 8 horses and many bands closely associate into herds; travelling, feeding, and resting together. At its largest population, bands with more than one stallion occurred, but are now infrequent. Bachelors form loosely associated ephemeral bands or range independently. Genetically, these horses are most related to draft breeds such as the Percheron, probably reflecting much of the early settlement activity around the old west town of Cody. Horses of all colors are in this herd, including Overo, Tobiano, and Sabino paint horses.

Issues worth noting and needed actions

Like most populations in the USA, available habitat for horses is finite and management is necessary to protect all natural resources while attempting to balance the multiple-use mandate for the federal lands where horses live.  The science needed for more-informed management is improving, but many obstacles persist. You can read much more in the 2013 National Research Council report “Using Science to Improve the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program: A Way Forward

Bibliography and further reading

Additional details about this population, and specifically about behavior and fertility control, can be found in:

Ransom, J.I., Roelle, J.E., Cade, B.S., Coates-Markle, L., and A.J. Kane. 2011. Foaling rates in feral horses treated with the immunocontraceptive porcine zona pellucida. Wildlife Society Bulletin 35:343-352

Ransom, J.I., Cade, B.S., and N.T. Hobbs. 2010. Influences of immunocontraception on time budgets, social behavior, and body condition in feral horses. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 124:51-60

On-going behavior and ecology research from Dr. Ransom can be followed on Twitter @wildequids

Aveto horses (WE)

This entry was contributed  by Evelina Isola of WILD HORSEWATCHING – I Cavalli Selvaggi dell’Aveto.

Species: Equus caballus

Subspecies/Breed/Type: Crossbreed Bardigiano/Franches Montagne

Country: Italy

Region/Province/Range: Parco Naturale Regionale dell’AvetoLiguria (Genova)

Population type: Feral-unmanaged

Estimated Population size: <50

Header image provided by Evelina Isola and gallery pictures provided by Paola Marinari. Please respect copyright!

Details of Population

They live in Liguria, in Tigullio Gulf hinterland (30 Km from the coast, Chiavari, Genova). They live between Sturla Valley and Penna Valley and another population lives in Graveglia Valley, few km from Sturla Valley at East. The territory is a typical Apennine mountain area. The Sturla/Penna population has an area of about 15-20 Km2. Graveglia Valley population has an area of 5-6 Km2.

They are the heritage of horses working in the valley at about 20 years ago. Since the last owner died their number grew up and the new generations never had relationship with humans. They feed, reproduce, find water and whatever they need in complete autonomy.  Their biology and their behaviour seems to be the same of wild american and mongolian horses.
They represent a great treasure for the territory because of their relationship with environment and habitat conservation
In the territory lives a population of wolfs, able to control by natural predation the increasing number of heads.

Structure and demographics

5 adult stallions identified. Adult to young ratio – 3,5:1

Census and further details presently under study in collaboration with the University of Genova.

Issues worth noting and needed actions

Six years ago, humans’ intolerance caused the kill – by shot – of two horses. For some people in the valleys, horses represent a danger for their fields and breeding, because during the winter, sometimes, horses move down from the hills top to the villages looking for warmer weather and easier feeding sources. For this, in 2010 was written an agreement between local municipalities, Aveto Regional Natural Park, breeders associations, health institutions and animals’ protection associations, in order to manage herds. For this agreement horses should be captured and transfer in another locations or donate to private people. But, many animals died during capture operations, others were kept by infarct when they were putted in the boxes. Some females died during labor.

Now we are carrying out a conservation program in order to find the correct juridical classification for them. For Italian laws, in fact, horses are only classified as “farm” or “sport” animals. We are raising public awareness of their unique value, on biological and ecological point of view, and of their value as an economic resource for local-slow-rural tourism.

Galician wild ponies WE

This entry was contributed to Wild Equus by Dr.Laura Lagos, member and specialist of the Wild Equus Network (WEN).


Species: Equus caballus

Subspecies/Breed/Type: Galician wild ponies

Special note: Galician Ponies, which belong to the group of Atlantic Ponies or Garranos (Bárcena 2012). There is no evidence of this population of Garranos coming form domesticated populations, and it has even been proposed that the population of wild ponies living in the mountains of Galicia may constitute a subspecies of wild horse, Equus ferus atlanticus (Barcena, 2011). However this hypothesis needs DNA confirmation. Some individuals in the population having certain morphological characteristics have been registered as “Galician pure breed”

Country: Spain

Region/Province/Range: Sierra de A Groba (A Groba Mountain Range), Pontevedra (Galicia)

Population type: Semi feral – slightly managed (Semi-feral according to a classification based on management, wild according to their probable origin.)

Estimated Population size: estimated 850-900 ponies

Management Practices

The traditional management of the Galician ponies includes the removal of the majority of the foals in annual round ups (curro). In the past yearlings were tamed and used for transport, haulage and work in the farms. Today foals are slaughtered for meat for consumption of the local people. In this round ups the manes and tails are shared. In the Sierra de A Groba the management is a bit more intensive, thus ponies are rounded up twice a year and, in these last years during captures ponies are also dewormed and treated for external parasites. In addition, adults are also equipped with micro-chips since it was established in a Galician Decree for domestic horses.

The traditional curros and this old harvesting system of the wild horse population has a great ethnographic value. Today they are still an important social event for locals and are becoming more and more a touristic attraction.

These ponies as a general fact inhabit communal land. It consist on communal forest, called Monte Vecinal en Mano Común (MVMC), belonging to a rural community formed by a group of people living usually in a parish, each parish has their communal forest. The people who traditionally harvest the ponies are called besteiros and they usually are not the owners of the land.

Ponies in these mountains are fire branded. The president of the association has a book with all the marks; some of them have been the same for generations. They are micro chipped since 1-2 years ago.

Details of Population

The Sierra de A Groba is a mountain range, situated in the southwest of Galicia, by the see in one of the most populated areas of Galicia (164 inhabitants per km2 in the surrounding municipalities). Altitudes are between 50-650 m above sea level. The landscapes consist on scrublands dominated by gorse (Ulex europaeus, Ulex minor) and heathers (Erica sp., Calluna vulgaris) together with forest of pines (Pinus pinaster, Pinus radiata) and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) cultivated for the wood and paper industry. Cattle, sheep, and goats in some areas, are raised in these mountains. Wolves, which are the natural predators of the Galician wild ponies, were extirpated from these mountains in the seventies. The ponies live in an area of about 12,000 ha.

The characteristics of the Galician ponies are reduced size, frequently bay or black coat, curved back, big abdomen and a dense “moustache” which presumably is an adaptation to the consumption of the prickly gorse. The Galician ponies in the Sierra de A Groba are the smallest in Galicia: the average height on shoulders for mares is 119 cm. The moustache is present in about 47% of the mares. In Sierra de A Groba the ponies are called “burras”.

Structure and demographics

Removal of foals means that the sex ratio of adults is artificial and it is maintained at 40-50 mares per stallion. There are 18-20 stallions in the population. Studies on wild ponies in other mountains of Galicia indicate that foaling rate is 0,67 (Lagos 2013), however, in these mountains the habitat is rougher, consequently, the foaling rates are presumably lower.

The census is decreasing. Thirty years ago the population size was 2,000-2,500 ponies (Iglesia 1973) and only 8-10 years ago 1,500 ponies lived in these mountains. The decrease is due to the disappearance of their traditional uses of the ponies, and since 2008 due to the implementation of the regulations for micro chipping of the ponies and other measures which burden this traditional system.

Issues worth noting and needed actions

The implementation of the regulations for micro chipping of the ponies and other measures which burden this traditional system are causing a reduction of the population of ponies and many besteiros giving up this tradition that their families have continued for generations. It is necessary to have regulations adapted to the characteristics of this population of wild ponies.  At least, the exceptions contemplated by the European regulations (EC No 504/2008) for the equidae constituting defined populations living under wild or semi-wild conditions should be applied.

There is an insufficient knowledge of the biological, ecological and cultural value of this population by the managers of the land and the government. It is necessary to disseminate the importance of this population to the public, to the managers of the land and to the government.

Research is needed in order to learn what is the true importance of Galician wild ponies as key species in the habitat, as well as to improve knowledge about their genetics and ecology.

The management of this populations should be more adapted to the biology of these animals.

Bibliography and Further reading

BÁRCENA, F. 2012. Garranos: Os póneis selvagens (Equus ferus sp.) do norte da Península Ibérica. Pages 75-96 en N. Vieira de Brito y G. Candeiras (coord.), Libro de Actas del I Congresso Internacional do Garrano. Arcos de Valdevez. Portugal.

IGLESIA, P. 1973. Los Caballos Gallegos Explotados en Régimen de Libertad o Ca¬ballos Salvajes de Galicia. Tesis, Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, 1.205 p

LAGOS, L. 2013. Ecología del lobo (Canis lupus), del poni salvaje (Equus ferus atlanticus) y del ganado vacuno semiextensivo (Bos taurus) en Galicia: interacciones depredador-presa. Tesis, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, 458 pp.

LAGOS, L. 2014. O sistema tradicional de aproveitamento dos ponis atlánticos salvaxes nos montes da Groba, Morgadáns e Galiñeiro. Retos no século XXI. Revista del Instituto de Estudios Miñoranos 12/13

Namibia Desert horses WE

This entry was contributed to Wild Equus by Dr. Telané Greyling of the Namibia Wild Horses Foundation, member and specialist of the Wild Equus Network (WEN). You can visit the foundation website, where you will find more details about her work with the feral horses at the Namib Naukluft National Park.


Species: Equus caballus

Subspecies/Breed/Type: Namibia Desert horses

Country: Namibia

Region/Province/Range: Namib Naukluft National Park

Population type: Semi feral – slightly managed

Estimated Population size: about 175 horses (2015)

Management Authority: Government Agency – Ministry of Environment and Tourism

Details of Population

These horses’ ancestors became wild around 1914-1924 and were able to live relatively undisturbed since the area they inhabited was a restricted diamond area, the “Sperrgebiet”. The horses had little influence from people except for the railway line and station at Garub, where they could get water. The origin of the horses is believed to be mainly from a horse stud which were abandoned around 1921 and the stud’s horses joined horses already grazing on the Garub plains since the First World War, many horses of the Allied Forces, stationed at Garub for two months, were scattered by bombing from the German forces. These ancestors were believed to be mainly crossbreds of Cape Horses, Trakener, Hackney and Thouroughbred bloodlines. The present horses are of small and light built, about 14-15 hands tall and weighing around 400 kilograms.

The area the horses inhabit were incorporated into the Namib Naukluft National Park in 1986 from when on an interest in management of the horses by the Namibia Ministry of Environment and Tourism became relevant. Population estimates were made in 1988 and 1991 and the population reduced by capture in a drought during 1992. The remaining population of 117 horses were individually identified and catalogued in December 1993 and has been monitored ever since. Another severe drought during 1998 caused the near removal of the horses from the desert, the controversy between proponents and opponents within the National Park authorities and the public led to a study on the ecology of the area during 2003-2005. A subsequent policy was accepted that the horses will be protected within the Namib Naukluft National Park with minimal interference, though ensuring a stable population within upper and lower limits.

Structure and demographics

During the past 20 years the population size has fluctuated between 89 and 286 horses. Good rainfall years in the late 80’s were followed by severe droughts in the 90’s and then followed by 12 years of abundance that ended by 2012. At present the Southern Namib are in the mid of a dry cycle again. Apart from malnutrition during drought, other mortality factors include predation mainly by spotted hyena, motor vehicle accidents on the B4 road to Lüderitz, fatal injuries, old age and complications (dystocia, etc.) while giving birth.

The population is typically structured in breeding groups, which consists of a stallion (sometimes 2 or more), adult mares, their offspring as well as youngsters not related to the adults. Peripheral stallions are also part of some groups, these stallions are not allowed interaction with adult mares in the group but contributes to the cohesion of the group by looking after youngsters and being a buffer zone around the group. Stallions not associated with breeding groups are called bachelor stallions who live alone or associate in small groups. At present the 175 horses are distributed into 32 breeding groups (ranging from 2 to 7 individuals) and 56 bachelor stallions. The sex ratio is 62% stallions to 38% mares and 78% adults to 22% juveniles (less than 5 years old). The main periods of significant changes in groups during the past 20 years have been influenced or caused by human interference (removal of horses) and severe droughts.

Issues worth noting and needed actions

Regarding policy and local opinion the population at Garub are secure, threats include severe drought and increased predation, therefore the activity of spotted hyenas in the area are being monitored and preparation for provision of a supplement protein mineral lick is in process.

Bibliography and further reading

Please see more at Namibia Wild Horses Foundation

Delft Island horses WE

Species: Equus caballus

Subspecies/Breed/Type/Common names: Delft type

Country: Sri Lanka

Region/Province/Range: Delft Island

Population type: Feral

Estimated Population size: about 450 horses (2014)

Management Authority:  

Management Practices: Drinking water is often provided to the horses in the drier months

Details of Population

The roughly oval-shaped Delft Island is approximately 49,5 km² with close to 4034 hectares.(8kms long by about 6km wide at the widest point.) The island is characteristic of semi-arid tropical island landscape, dominated by palm trees, grasses and shrubs. The mean annual rainfall lies between 500-700mm, with seasonal peaks in April and November.

Structure and demographics

No in depth studies are known to this date

Issues worth noting and needed actions

The Delft ponies are threatened due to overgrazing by the large population of cattle.

In the drier months horses are noted to starve and lack water. Talks of a Wild horse Sanctuary were under-way in 2013 which would protect the horses in an area of approximately 530 hectares,  but no advances have been made to date.

Bibliography and Further reading

Sustainable Development of Delft Island: An ecological, socio-economic and archaeological assessment Occasional Papers of IUCN Sri Lanka No. 1. (2013


Help us improve our Wild Equus – Atlas entries!

The WE Atlas depends on your support and encourages you to add to, revise, or edit our Atlas entries. When editing or adding facts to an entry, please provide references to a reliable source so others may verify them.

For contributing images, audio or video files, please send us links to the files. Send mail here (Wild Equus)Please ensure media files linked to this form are your own.The copyrights to all media will remain yours. By sending media links to Wild Equus Organization will have the right to use media solely on this website.

 

Theodore Roosevelt free-ranging horses WE

This entry was contributed to Wild Equus by Dr. Jason Ransom of Colorado State University, member and specialist of the Wild Equus Network (WEN).


Species: Equus caballus         Subspecies/Breed/Type: American Mustang

Estimated Population size: Maintained at 120–160 horses

Country: United States

Region/Province/Range: Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Population type: Free-ranging-heavily managed

Management Authority: Government Agency – National Park Service

Images from Jason Ransom

Details of Home Range or Territory

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is located in south-western North Dakota, USA (45◦55’N/103◦31’W). The South Unit of the park, where horses range, is approximately 19,000 ha and consists of eroded badlands with gullies and ravines separated by large upland plateaus, and small buttes. The mixed-grass prairie vegetation is predominantly comprised of needle and thread (Hesperostipa comata), threadleaf sedge (Carex filifolia), western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithia),blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis) and little bluestem (Andropogen scoparius). Unlike most mustangs in the US, which are managed by the Bureau of Land Management, this herd is part of the National Park Service system. Horses in the park are preserved as part of the cultural landscape, but because they range with pronghorn (Antilocapra americana), bison (Bison bison), mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and elk, the result is a vignette of primitive North American landscape.

Details of Population

Details about the park and its resources can be found at www.nps.gov/thro. Research is on-going for this population and longer-term behavioral data are currently being analyzed. Additional details about this population, and specifically about behavior, can be found in: Ransom, J.I., Powers, J.G., Garbe, H.M., Oehler Sr., M.W., ,Nett, T.M., and D.L. Baker. 2014. Behavior of feral horses in response to culling and GnRH immunocontraception. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 157:81-92

Structure and demographics

This population is maintained at around 120–160 horses through periodic management removals and immunocontraception (GnRH). Predation by pumas is minimal, even though the large cats share habitat. The horses organize themselves into about 20 bands with an average band size of about 8.7. All individual horses in this population are identified and assigned individual identity numbers by managers and researchers, and age and reproductive data for each animal are maintained.

Issues worth noting and needed actions

Like most populations in the USA, available habitat for horses is finite and management is necessary to protect the full suite of natural resources in this National Park.  The on-going research on use of GnRH to reduce fertility is promising as it appears to have minimal effects on short-term behavior while slowing population growth. Like all management tools, the long-term effects of human actions need to be monitored in order to responsibly preserve the ecosystem.

Gower ponies WE

We would like to thank Equine behaviourist Jennie Nellist for this entry of the ponies living on the Gower Peninsula, Wales.


Species: Equus caballus

Subspecies/Breed/Type Gower ponies

Country: United Kingdom

Region/Province/Range: Gower, Swansea

Population type: Free-ranging-heavily managed

Estimated Population size: over 250 horses

Images by Jennie Nellist

Details of Population

The Gower Peninsula contains a total of 50 square kilometers of common land, split into many smaller parcels, most of which are grazed by ponies and horses. From salt marsh and sand dunes of North Gower,  heath land of Rhossili Down, the brown stone ridge and sink holes of Cefn Bryn, to the acidic moors of Welsh Moor, Pengwern, Fairwood and Clyne, Gower’s textbook fame for its remarkable geology makes sure there’s  surprising variety of habitat in an area only 19 miles long. See also.

Structure and demographics

Each common varies as to the number of ponies or horses, as well as their type or breed, sex ratio and the presence of foals and juveniles. Typically Welsh Mountain ponies are seen, with a number of active Hill Pony Improvement Societies in place – with ponies being registered with the Welsh Pony and Cob Society. There are also other Welsh ponies and cobs, cobs, cross breeds, Irish Draft horses and Shire and Shire crosses grazed on Gower commons. Some ponies are not used for breeding, are bred on private land and mares are returned to the common to give birth to and rear their young. Other scenarios include temporary turnout of a stallion over the spring and summer breeding season. Stallions may also be turned out all year round. Stallions are also abandoned by owners without common grazing rights. Over all, the population is mostly mares with geldings and stallions in the minority (tens compared to hundreds)

Issues worth noting and needed actions

There is an on going problem with abandonment of equines across the Swansea area and wider South Wales.

Further reading

Gower Commons Ponies


Help us improve our Wild Equus – Atlas entries!

The WE Atlas depends on your support and encourages you to add to, revise, or edit our Atlas entries. When editing or adding facts to an entry, please provide references to a reliable source so others may verify them.

For contributing images, audio or video files, please send us links to the files. Please ensure media files linked to this form are your own.The copyrights to all media will remain yours. By sending media links to Wild Equus Organization will have the right to use media solely on this website.

Tornquist feral horses WE

Atlas entry registered by Dr. Alberto Scorolli, based on work and research carried out with the feral horses at  Ernesto Tornquist Provincial Park (website).


Country: Argentina                                                                                                          Region/Province/Range: Ernesto Tornquist Provincial Park (ETPP) – Buenos Aires

Species: Equus caballus             Subspecies/Breed/Type: Feral Creole

Estimated Population size: +/- 400 horses (2014)

Management Authority:  Ernesto Tornquist Provincial Park (ETPP)

Management Practices: Population Management Strategy is urgently needed

 

Ernesto Tornquist Provincial Park (ETPP) is located in the south of the Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, between 38 º 00’- 38º 07’S and 61º 52’- 62º 03’W.  This natural reserve was established in 1938 and covers 67 Km2 of hilly grassland with heights ranging between 450 and 1175 m above sea level. The climate is temperate and humid (Burgos 1968) with a mean annual rainfall of 800 mm. Rains fall mainly in spring with a second peak in autumn. Snowfalls are occasional and, in general, light. The typical vegetation is grassland steppe dominated by species of the genera Stipa and Piptochaetium (Cabrera 1976; Frangi and Bottino 1995).
This Natural Protected Area is very important for biodiversity conservation as it includes many endemic plant and animal species (Kristensen and Frangi 1995). In 1942 a small group between 5-10 horses, which became feral, were introduced to ETPP. In 1995, their descendants, 450 horses, occupied a fenced-off sector of approximately 20 Km2 (Scorolli 2007). These horses were of Creole breed, like all other feral horse populations in Argentina. This breed has originated from Spanish and Andalusian horses, of essentially African barb ancestry, brought to South America by the colonizers during the XVI century (Cabrera, 1945).

Structure and demographics

Currently approximately 40 harem-bands, most single stallion H-Bands. Population size in year 2014 400 feral horses, sex ratio 1:1. adult+sub-adult+yearling: foals (7:1).

Issues worth noting and needed actions

Current density 20 horses/km2, in year 2001-2002 population was food-limited, approaching carrying capacity and reaching 35 horses/km2 (annual mortality more than 80 horses/year).
In 2014 after a massive fire in January and a exceptionally rainy year (highest in decades) the body condition is good and the demographic potential to increase is also high!!
A Population Management Strategy is urgently needed in order to reduce current population size to appropriate levels that preclude high mortality by starvation and environmental impact in a natural protected area created by its grassland biodiversity unusual value.
There is a conflict between government authorities and some horse protection groups that see management as unacceptable.


Bibliography and Further reading

Scorolli, A.L., A.C. Lopez Cazorla and L.A. Tejera. 2006. Unusual mass mortality of feral horses during a violent rainstorm in Parque Provincial Tornquist, Argentina. Mastozoología Neotropical 13: 255-258.
Scorolli, A.L. 2009. Feral horse management in Argentina. In 10th. International Mammalogical Congress. Mendoza, Argentina.
Scorolli A.L. y López Cazorla. 2010a. Demography of feral horses (Equus caballus): a long-term study in Tornquist Park, Argentina. Wildlife Research 37: 207-214.
Scorolli, A. and A. Lopez Cazorla. 2010b. Feral horse social stability in Tornquist Park, Argentina. Mastozoología Neotropical 17 (2): 391-396.
Scorolli, A.L. 2012. Feral horse demography and management in Tornquist Park, Argentina.  International Wild Equid Conference. VetMedUni, Viena.
Scorolli, A.L. 2012. Feral horse body condition: a useful tool for population management?. International Wild Equid Conference. VetMedUni, Viena.
About potential environmental impact
de Villalobos, A.E. and S.M. Zalba. 2010. Continuous feral horses grazing and grazing exclusion in mountain pampean grasslands in Argentina. Acta Oecologica 36: 514-519.
de Villalobos, A.E., S.M. Zalba and D.V. Peláez. 2011. Pinus halepensis invasion in mountain pampean grassland: Effects of feral horses grazing on seedling establishment. Environmental Research 111: 953-959.
Loydi, A. and S.M. Zalba. 2009. Feral horses dung piles as invasion windows in natural grasslands. Plant Ecology 201: 471-480.
Loidy, A. and R.A. Distel. 2010. Diversidad florística bajo diferentes intensidades de pastoreo por grandes herbívoros en pastizales serranos del Sistema de Ventania, Buenos Aires. Ecología Austral 20: 281-291.
Loidy, A., R.A. Distel and S.M. Zalba. 2010. Large herbivore grazing and non-native plant invasions in montane grasslands of central Argentina. Natural Areas Journal, 30(2): 148-155.
Zalba S.M. and N. Cozzani. 2004. The impact of feral horses on grassland bird communities in Argentina. Animal Conservation 7: 35-44.