FOUR dozen Retuerta horses – one of the oldest and rarest breeds in Europe – have been released into the wild in Spain over the past two years.
The almost extinct horses were given their freedom as part of a project by Rewilding Europe, a nonprofit group that hopes to turn the loss of rural farming life into an opportunity to boost biodiversity.
There are only about 150 of them left in the Doñana National Park, between Huelva and Cadiz, living in a single cluster there, any potential disease or calamity could wipe out the entire species.
The endangered Retuerta is one of the oldest breeds in Europe and most closely resembles the race of ancient Iberian horses that populated this region before being domesticated.
Two dozen Retuertas have been released in the Campanarios de Azaba Reserve, an unfenced area near Salamanca, where the horses were once native.
Diego Benito, a forestry engineer at the Campanarios de Azaba Biological Reserve, said: “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.”
One thing Spain has plenty of is marginal land that is’nt worth farming so this is a great way to use this type of land without exploiting it in a negative way – good on the Spanish, it could be the start of other endangered species getting a helping hand and maybe a great opportunity for eco-tourism to help with employment as these areas have suffered greatly from de-population.