Namibia: Wild Horse Population Up

21 November 2019

The population of horses in the Namib-Naukluft Park and the Tsau //Khaeb Sperrgebiet) National Park is steadily increasing due to a management plan that was launched at Lüderitz on Friday by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, its partners and stakeholders.

The plan is designed to maintain a viable and healthy horse population that contributes to improved community livelihoods and economic development for the the country.

The plight of the wild horses have been of great concern to horse lovers as their population continued to drop. In the 1980s, the population of the horses was estimated at around 160 animals.

The horses were under threat of extinction as their population was drastically reduced due to predators,particularly hyenas that target the foals, with only 77 horses recorded in May 2019.

The Namibia Wild Horses Foundation strongly believes the horses are teetering on the brink of extinction as there are no chances of survival for the foals as long as the hyenas are around. The hyenas are also targeting the adult horses. The foundation wanted custodian of the horses.

Mannfred Goldbeck, chairman of the Namibia Wild Horses Foundation, told Gondwana Collection in November last year: "The Foundation is waiting anxiously for the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to respond to our request for custodianship of the horses.

"We need to implement measures urgently to safeguard their future. We have been trying for several years to engage the ministry, without success. The situation is now an emergency. We urge the ministry to commit to a plan of action so that we can save the remaining population."

On Friday, however, the wild horse population was put at 79.

"As a ministry we had to come up with a plan to ensure that these horses survive despite the harsh conditions they are living in," Shifeta said when he launched the ministry's new plan.

Some community members had suggested that the horses should be relocated to private farms as a means to mitigate the situation, but the ministry was reluctant to authorise that.

Shifeta explained that the ministry took cognisance of the interests of the Aus residents and other people living near Tsau who derive benefits through tourism.

"What attracts more tourists are these horses. Therefore their presence there [in the park] has economic value to that area.

Which is why we have decided to come up with a plan to manage these animals properly and to make sure they survive," he said.

The minister also extended gratitude to ministry staff who camped at the observatory posts and looked after the horses while keeping predators such as hyenas at bay.

"The hyenas are forever gone now, I'm saying forever because for certain months we have not seen the hyenas," he noted.

The separation of the hyenas from the horses, Shifeta said, is an indication that the plan is working.

"Soon we will have 100 horses from 79," he added. - Nampa

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